Bare Naked Essentials
Why Does Everybody Die?
The Beginning ....
●Gen 2:25a …The two of them were naked, the man and his wife
It's very difficult to believe that God fully intended for people to live without clothing. So how come early Man didn't need protection for his skin? Nobody really knows for sure; maybe because human skin was a whole lot tougher and thicker than now; and far more agreeable with natural sunlight.
Still; nudity seems so impractical. And I would imagine that Adam and his wife needed to bathe pretty often too. Without clothing to protect their skin from dust and grime, in no time at all they would be as funky as two pigs in a puddle.
●Gen 2:25b …yet they felt no shame.
The Hebrew word for "shame" is buwsh (boosh); which means, properly, to pale; by implication, to be ashamed; also by implication, to be disappointed, held in check, and/or delayed
Webster's defines ashamed is: 1) guilt, or disgrace, 2) a feeling of inferiority or inadequacy, and 3) inhibited.
In other words, there was absolutely nothing in early Man's psyche restraining him from parading around in full frontal nudity; and actually, neither was there anything in his psyche encouraging him to. They weren't exhibitionists by any stretch of the imagination because in their innocence, Adam and his wife simply were neither proud of, nor humiliated by, their appearance in the nude.
There were two significant kinds of trees living in Adam's environment.
● Gen 2:9 . .And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
The tree of life was especially important to Adams' survival. It contained essential nutrients that if included in his diet, Adam would never grow old and die.
●Gen 2:16-17 ...And The Lord God commanded the man: You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.
I seriously doubt that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was an anomaly in Adam's world; but was just as environmentally legitimate as poison ivy, hemlock, gravity, lightning, rattlesnakes, and scorpions. God's command wasn't a tyrannical restriction; but was for Adam's own good. Leave poison ivy, hemlock, gravity, lightning, rattlesnakes, and scorpions alone; and they will leave you alone. Tamper with them, and you just might regret it.
Adam and his wife could look at the fruit of that forbidden tree, they could handle it they could peel it and sniff it, they could feed it to the hogs if they wanted, they could climb up and build a tree house like the Swiss family Robinson, and they could even cut the tree down and use it for firewood. They just couldn't use its fruit for food.
They chose to taste the goods.
● Gen 3:6 . . And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
God gave Adam fair warning that he would die the very day he ate that forbidden fruit; but Adam's body didn't expire the instant he ate it, but rather; quite a few decades later (Gen 5:5). However, though Adam's body didn't expire, it really did die the instant he ate the fruit. How so? Answer: his body began to age. However, if he kept eating fruit from the tree of life, he would survive. But God took steps to insure that he would never again have access to that fruit.
● Gen 3:22-24 . . And the Lord God said: The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever. So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
Thus to effect Adam's demise, all that God had to do was deny him access to the essential nutrients found only in the tree of life and let nature take its course.
Unfortunately, Adam ruined it for everybody. Because of his disobedience in the matter of the forbidden fruit; his posterity is denied access to those essential nutrients too; ergo: the human body begins aging sometime in its early to mid thirties. The aging process is slow, but it is also very relentless. Debilitation is like Arnold Swarzenegger's movie character; the Terminator: it feels neither pain nor pity, nor remorse nor fear; it cannot be reasoned with nor can it be bargained with, and it absolutely will not stop— ever —until you are gone.
I'm 66 years old as of this writing; however my body's been dead since I was 32. How so? Answer: that's when I first noticed my body had lost its youth and began to age. Death then, encompasses more than one's expiration date; it also includes one's gradual debilitation. Modern man enjoys a very brief period of freshness before he begins to fall apart; and from then on his remaining time on this globe can be defined as the throes of a living death for which there is no treatment.
The aging process is a cold as steel heads-up that your tenure on this planet is rapidly winding down to a close; and one day, it will be like you were never here.
Objection: Whoa! Wait just a minute there. I can understand Adam having to get old and die for what he did; but why me? I never even had a chance to prove my worth. Why didn't God preserve an orchard of that tree for the rest of us?
It has been an unsolved mystery down through the ages precisely how God can justify requiring Adam's posterity to share the blame for what he did; but nevertheless, it is a Christian tenet.
● Rom 5:12-14 . . Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned— for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam.
The passage is meant to convey the reason why people died in the past who neither partook of the forbidden fruit, nor broke any commandments; and that's why "all sinned" is in the grammatical past tense rather than present or future. The past-tense grammar indicates even the complicity of infants in Adam's transgression. It has to be that way because those people back then committed no disobedience of their own to die for; and that's because when there's no commandments, then there's no commandments to disobey. In other words: the laws of God are not retroactive. (Gal 3:17)
Now; I'll tell you what's scary about this. Your impending death is earmarked as retribution for Adam's disobedience. Which means that your impending death can't be used as retribution your own disobedience; hence the necessity of a second death in the reservoir of liquefied flame depicted at Rev 20:10-15.
However; though Rom 5:12-14 explains why everyone is doomed to die as sinners— including innocent infants —it isn't meant for that purpose alone. Paul utilized Adam's curse as a model to illustrate Christ's blessing. In other words: as Adam's disobedience made it possible for everyone to die as sinners; by the same token Christ's obedience makes it possible for everyone to live as righteous men. This is admittedly a very difficult mystery to understand but it's a little easier to digest if we think of it in the concept of proxy participation. In other words; by the principle of proxy participation everyone dined upon the forbidden fruit; and by the same principle everyone was put to death on the cross.
● Isa 53:6 . .We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
● Rom 6:3 . . all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death
● Rom 6:6 . . our old self was crucified with him
● Gal 2:20 . . I am crucified with Christ
● Gal 5:24 . . they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts
●Col 3:2-3 . . Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
Though Christ died as a sinner on the cross; he came back entirely free of sin.
● Rom 6:10 . .The death he died, he died to sin once for everyone; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
Whether they are aware of it or not, people who have chosen to die with Christ by proxy participation in his crucifixion, are, by the same token, risen from the dead with him: and thus they too are living unto God.
● Rom 6:11 . . In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Why Do I Have A Conscience?
The instant that Adam ate that fruit, something very serious happened to his psyche.
●Gen 3:7 ...Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
No doubt the inhibitions Adam and his wife felt after eating the forbidden fruit, were akin to the disgrace of indecent exposure; which is a behavior that post-Eden civilized humanity normally associates with perverts. Adam and his wife didn't feel naughty about frontal nudity at first, nor were they self conscious in the slightest respect because as yet they knew no cultural boundaries, nor were they infected yet with a guilt complex about sex and the human body; and concepts like vanity and narcissism had no point of reference in their thinking whatsoever. They had absolutely no natural sense of propriety, nor were they even aware of any because God hadn't taught them any proprieties yet; but all of a sudden, they became self conscious; which Webster's defines as: uncomfortably aware of oneself as an object of the observation of others.
All of a sudden, Man had something that day that he didn't have when he was created: a conscience; which Webster's defines as: a sense of the moral goodness, or the blameworthiness, of one's own personal conduct, intentions, or character; together with a feeling of obligation to do right or be good. As a result, the Adams became frightened in God's presence— not because they ate the fruit after being told not to, no, not that; but rather, because they feared retribution for running around in the buff.
The fruit that Adam and his wife ate apparently contained an unknown chemistry that genetically altered their consciousness not just temporarily— like LSD, ayahuasca, mescaline, or psicilocybin —but permanently, so that their sense of self, and their sense of right and wrong, both mutated and the Adams became a God unto themselves. The evidence of their new consciousness was their feelings that frontal nudity was inappropriate; though their creator had never even said one word about them running around in the buff.
●Gen 3:8-11 …Then the man and his wife heard the voice of The Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from Him among the trees of the garden. The Lord God called to the man; Where are you? He answered; I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was nude; so I hid. Who told you that you were nude?
Nobody told them they were nude; they just felt nude, and they assumed that nudity is punishable.
Man's post-fruit conscience is fully confident that nudity is punishable even though God, the source of all moral absolutes, has never even one time, in the entire Bible, condemned nudity per se as sin. The post-fruit human conscience, which is a humanistic conscience, just naturally assumes God condemns nudity without the slightest proof that He does.
That's very interesting because it really makes me wonder what else Man is assuming God condemns without the slightest proof that He does. And conversely: what is Man assuming God approves without the slightest proof that He does? The old saying: "Let your conscience be your guide" is actually bad advice; because when it comes to moral absolutes, post-Eden Man's conscience is a product of fruit rather than a product of Man's creator.
They passed those permanent psyche mutations on to their posterity just like rats pass their rat nature on to rat offspring and koala bears pass their koala bear nature on to koala bear offspring. So that even though you didn't personally eat the fruit yourself; your current humanistic sense of self, and your current humanistic sense of right and wrong, are both the result of their eating; ergo: you are a God unto yourself just as they were.
Why Am I Capable Of Sin?
The capability to sin— which is a different condition than that of being prone to sin —is not a result of Man's fall. No, the capability to sin was in human nature right from the sixth day of creation because the Adams disobeyed God, in the third chapter of Genesis, not from the depths of a fallen nature, but from a state of complete innocence.
So I would have to say that the first sin wasn't committed with a rebellious attitude, but rather; I think they took a calculated risk that the Serpent just might be right. I seriously don't think either one of them had a problem with authority because Eve really was convinced the Serpent was telling the truth, so she didn't eat the fruit just to assert her independence like when Nemo slapped the underside of that boat in defiance of his dad's wishes to the contrary.
The Bible's God laid it upon Man's shoulders to regulate his own affairs.
● Gen 1:26-28 . . And God said: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
. . . So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
In other words, God created Man as an under-god; which Christianity's Jesus believed to be true.
● John 10:34-37 . . Jesus answered them: Is it not written in your Law "I have said you are gods". If he called them gods to whom the word of God came-- and the Scripture cannot be broken --what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, I am God's Son?
Jesus' reference was Psalm 82; which according to his testimony, cannot be invalidated.
The attitude that the Bible's God is somehow responsible for all the sin that takes place in the human race is the attitude of fatalism. No; Man is an under-god, and as an under-god created in the image of the Top God, he is fully authorized to make bad choices.
BTW: I really have to chuckle sometimes at the inconsistency of atheists. They crave autonomy, yet at the same time criticize the Bible's God for not meddling in their affairs and preventing them from doing something bad.
Why Do I Have A Propensity To Sin?
Prior to the forbidden fruit incident, Man had only the capability to sin. As a result of eating the fruit, he now has a propensity to sin.
Webster's defines propensity as: an often intense natural inclination or preference
That is what makes the human race today much worse off than Adam's pre-fruit existence. He resisted his own temptation rationally and objectively: from outside himself. People today have temptations genetically built into themselves as a result of the fruit; so that resisting temptation now can actually lead to nervous disorders.
Post-fruit human nature is not the same human nature with which Adam came into existence on the day God created him. No one today has ever seen a truly normal human psyche. The normal human psyche— the one which God pronounced excellent in every way (Gen 1:31) —went extinct on the day Adam ate the fruit.
But where did post-fruit human nature originate? If God didn't create it, then who did, and precisely how was it installed in Man's genome? I don't think there's any need to guess at the answer because it's located right in chapter 3 of the book of Genesis.
The fruit that Adam and his wife ate obviously contained a hazardous substance that irreversibly altered their original DNA. The Adams passed their fruit-damaged DNA on to their offspring; who then in turn passed it down to everyone living today.
So then what is that saying? It is saying that
human beings are not only
rebelious by choice but also by nature (Rom 7:7-25,
So then, human nature's propensity to sin is a naturally inherited disease; and we're all infected with it through no real fault of our own; it was transmitted to us by papa Adam.
The chemistry of the forbidden fruit is of course totally unknown; its tree having been wiped out in Noah's flood right along with the tree of life. Both trees are long gone off the earth, so it's now impossible to study either one of them in a lab.
Objection: If there was a hazardous substance in the fruit, then God created it
Absolutely. The fruit definitely wasn't man-made because it pre-existed Adam's tenure in the garden (Gen 2:8-9).
FAQ: What purpose did that substance serve in nature?
There's no way of telling. But even toadstools, rattlesnakes, hemlock squids, atomic energy, lightening, and arsenic and cyanide all have their legitimate niches in nature somewhere.
You know, I highly suspect that birds and animals could eat the forbidden fruit without any ill effects because Genesis testifies that Eve saw that the fruit was good for food (Gen 3:6). Well how else would she have thought it was good for food unless the critters had been munching on it? Even today, there are lots of berries and such in nature that are toxic to Man yet nourishing to wildlife. Which is why you should never go by the old bromide that if animals are eating it, then it must be safe. No way. The digestive systems of birds and animals produce different kinds of enzymes than those of the human digestive system; and they have certain built-in immunities that Man doesn't have.
FAQ: Please explain why Deut 24:16, and Ezk 18:20 don't apply to that original sin.
The Law and the Prophets don't have ex post facto jurisdiction (Gal 3:17). What took place in the garden was under the jurisdiction of neither Deuteronomy's laws nor of Ezekiel's prophecy; which were written and spoken many, many years afterward. So then, God was perfectly at liberty in Adam's day to make all of his posterity— including Eve, since she was, in effect, his first child —accomplices in his act.
Objection: Rom 5:12 "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death (separation from God) by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:" Note that the Bible doesn't say sin entered into man, but entered into the world.
The New Testament Greek word for "world" in that passage is kosmos (kos'-mos); which is an ambiguous word that can indicate not only the material universe, but also its living inhabitants; e.g.
●John 3:16-17 . .For God so cared for the world that He donated His only child, so that everyone who trusts in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send His son into the world to condemn it, but to rescue it.
The proof that Paul intended kosmos to indicate the sea of humanity is located right in Rom 5:12: "and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:"
all men = the world. So then, when Adam sinned, all men sinned right along with him, and when he died, all men died right along with him.
Objection: Sin is a choice to disobey the law of God. You can't indiscriminately label somebody a sinner till they actually do something wrong.
That's a half-truth. People were sinning before there was any law to disobey.
●Rom 5:13-14 . .Yes, people sinned even before the law was given. And though there was no law to break, since it had not yet been given
Many years prior to the advent of Moses' covenanted law, God assessed human beings to be sinners.
●Gen 6:5 . .And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
●Gen 13:12-13 . .So while Abram stayed in the land of Canaan, Lot moved his tents to a place near Sodom, among the cities of the plain. The people of this area were unusually wicked and sinned greatly against Yhvh.
The reality is: it is actually possible to live a sin-free life and yet still be judged a sinner because it's not only what human beings do that counts; no, it's also what they are that counts— according to God, and according to Paul, human beings are evil; even the ones who haven't even been born yet. If somebody can understand how baby rattlers are naturally poisonous at birth, then they can easily understand how baby human beings are naturally sinful at birth.
●Rom 3:13 . .The poison of a deadly snake drips from their lips.
●Gen 8:21 . .for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth
●Ps 51:5 . .For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
New-born children don't come into the world as baby angels, but rather, as baby rebels.
●Ps 58:3 …Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies.
The Law Of Sin......
●Rom 7:22-25 . .For I gladly concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
The law of sin (viz: the propensity to sin) is a force to be reckoned with because it makes people do things in thought, word, and deed that they simply cannot stop themselves from doing even when they know full well that those thoughts, words, and deeds are wrong.
●Rom 7:14-21 . .We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do-this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.
Parents don't have to teach children to lie; no, they will, in no time, be telling lies all on their own because it is in their nature to be dishonest. They come into the world rude, insolent, discourteous, greedy, selfish, self centered, thieves, vandals, demanding, and thoroughly prone to disobedience and anarchy.
It's only natural that a human mommy would look upon her young as sweet little cherubs, just as a rattlesnake mommy looks upon her own young as sweet little cherubs; but God looks not only upon the outward appearance, but also within the heart, and what you are unable to see; God sees within the heart of that seemingly sweet little human creature the larval stage of a wickedness far more toxic than you ever imagined.
●Jer 17:9 . .The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?
Christ sacrificed his own life not only to atone for the sinful acts that human beings commit, but also for human nature's propensity to sin.
●John 1:29 . .The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said; Look, the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
Note that "sin" is singular, not plural; indicating that the world is infected with a disease whose symptoms are the sinful acts the world commits.
So then, human nature's propensity to sin is a naturally inherited disease; and we're all infected with it through no real fault of our own; it was transmitted to us by papa Adam. When people cannot accept that they are diseased with the propensity to sin, then Christ's crucifixion becomes of no value to them whatsoever.
●Matt 9:12 . .It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but they that are sick.
●Isa 53:5 . .and with his stripes we are healed.
Objection: People who believe it is man's nature to sin are just seeking an excuse for what they do.
The purpose behind Paul's explanation of human nature's propensity to commit sins, is not to give people an excuse; but rather, to convince them that apart from Jesus' crucifixion, there is absolutely no hope of escape from the wrath of God simply because their very selves are living embodiments of sin.
Objects of Wrath....
Writing to born-again Christians about the propensity to sin, Paul said:
●Eph 2:1-3 …As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
To be an object of wrath "by nature" implies slavery. Just as human beings by nature are slaves to breathing air, and to food and water and rest, so they are slaves to the propensity to sin. Sin is just something we have to do; it's our way of life, and any other way can lead to mental disorders. Resisting our own natural impulses can lead to psychoses because it's fighting against nature; and that is a losing battle if ever there was one.
Although many of us no doubt still make objective, rational choices to sin, we today fall into sin much easier than the Adams because of our propensity to sin; whereas at the first, Adam and his wife didn't have that problem to deal with.
The propensity to sin, is itself sin because the propensity alone is sufficient to make everybody objects of wrath. Although I have never killed anybody illegally, there have been many times I would have liked to. Those longings to take someone's life are enough to qualify me as a murderer even though I've never followed through with my feelings about it. The problem is: I have a propensity to murder; and that alone is enough for God to condemn me as one. And that is primarily why the average pew warmer is not going to make it to Heaven. Not because they're murderers, but because they are slaves to a propensity to sin; which in itself is sin, and renders them a sinful creature.
Genesis quite clearly teaches that Man is a genetically sinful being, and other portions of the Bible quite clearly agree.
●Gen 6:3 …Then The Lord said; My Spirit will not contend with Man forever, for he is a sinful being
●Gen 8:21 …the longings of Man's heart are evil from his youth
●Ps 14:2-3 …The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.
Man's Image and Likeness....
In the beginning; Man was created not only in God's image, but also in God's likeness.
●Gen 1:27 …So God created man in his own image
●Gen 5:1 …When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.
But when Adam reproduced, he didn't pass on God's image and likeness to his offspring; no, he passed on his own image and likeness to his children.
●Gen 5:3 …When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image
What happened between the sixth day of creation and the day that Adam became a parent? Well …the forbidden fruit happened, and man's psyche underwent a metamorphoses; viz: man's image and likeness went from the image and likeness of his creator, to the image and likeness of an imposter; and the imposter is Man himself.
●Gen 3:22 …And The Lord God said; The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.
Where it says "like one of us" it means that Man joined the divinity club; he became his own God; with his own humanistic sense of right and wrong; so that now, Man is no longer a team player with God, but rather; he's God's rival; which makes Man's children to be God's rivals from birth.
●Gen 8:21 …and The Lord God said in his heart [after the Flood], I will not again curse the ground any more for Man's sake; for the longings of Man's heart are evil from his youth
Objection: So God screwed up when He created Man.
It's very difficult for me to believe that someone as intelligent enough, and as powerful enough, to create an entire cosmos with all of its various forms of life; plus all the known sciences that make it work— e.g. chemistry, hydrology, meteorology, atomic physics, and electricity —would screw up in the design of something as simple as a human being. It is far more rational to go on the premise that a Being like that would create Man according to a well thought out design.
Personally, I would have created Man incapable of rebellion against his creator. But that is something that God apparently is either unable to do, or was unwilling to do; at least at the opening gun.
It is possible now for people to undergo another Genesis and be re-created as a human being incapable of rebellion against God (John 3:3-8, 1John 3:9). But apparently, it was impossible for God to create human beings incapable of rebellion to begin with because He would have had to do so without their consent.
No, God didn't create Man rebellious. But He did create Man with the capability to rebel if he wanted to. God wasn't holding a gun to Adam's head when he ate the forbidden fruit. No, Adam ate it because he wanted to, not because he had to.
Some people are of the opinion that the holy angels worship God like mindless robots. But no, if that were true, then there would be no such thing as fallen angels. The holy angels worship and serve God because that's what they prefer; while the fallen angels worship and serve Satan because that's what they prefer. And human beings remain in rebellion against their creator because, for the most part, that is just the way they like it.
●Isa 53:6 …each of us has turned to his own way
What's After Life?
When people died in the Old Testament, they went to a place in the Hebrew language called sheol (sheh-ole'); which is equivalent to the New Testament's Greek word haides (hah'-dace). Both words identify the netherworld: the unseen world of the dead where people who once lived as mortal human beings now reside in spirit form. Although haides and sheol contain a Hell zone, the words themselves don't specifically identify a place of suffering; they're simply the netherworld where everybody goes when they die; both the good and the bad (e.g. Gen 37:35, Ps 9:17, Ps 16:10, Luke 16:19-31, Luke 23:39-43).
Some translations render sheol as the grave; a place to inter a corpse. But that's an error. The correct Hebrew word for grave is qibrah (kib-raw'); e.g. Gen 23:4.
Qibrah is the equivalent of the New Testament Greek word mnemeion (mnay-mi'-on) which means: a remembrance, i.e. cenotaph (place of interment); viz: grave, sepulchre, tomb (e.g. Matt 27:60). So then, qibrah and mnemeion house dead bodies, while sheol and haides warehouse the spirits of the people who at one time occupied those bodies before their owner's demise.
Luke 16:19-31 narrates an actual case history about three men in the afterlife. What I find to be very curious in this day and age is the number of professing Christians who do not believe the events in that narrative actually took place.
What Is Spirit?
Spirit is non material, and it can't even be called a substance because non materials have neither substance nor dimensions. The Old Testament's Hebrew word for spirit— ruwach (roo'-akh) —means the very same things as the New Testament's Greek word for spirit— pneuma (pnyoo'-mah). Both words just mean air, wind, and/or breath.
Life is an example of spirit. Nobody really knows what life is, nor how to reproduce it, nor how to study it. To date, there exist no scientific instruments like a Geiger counter or an oscilloscope that can examine life and quantify it because life is metaphysical rather than physical. Wires can't be hooked to life, life can't be poured in a test tube, life can't be cultivated in a petri dish, nor can life be grown out of the ground like a dandelion. Those things can be done with living things, but nobody can do any of that with the spirit that makes those living things alive.
There are invisible beings who exist as spirit. The crazy man of Mark 5:1-13 was possessed by a community of spirit beings who called themselves Legion. Webster's defines a *legion as the principal unit of the Roman army comprising 3,000 to 6,000 foot soldiers with cavalry. The spirits Jesus exorcised from just that one man went out and possessed a herd of about 2,000 swine, so that's a pretty good example of how spirits take up no room in the physical world; nor do they crowd each other. All 3,000-6,000 of those spirits fit inside the bodily cargo space of just one human being.
An interesting side point is that spirit beings can speak. Jesus was able to converse with the spirits inside that man, and able to converse with the Devil too, who himself is a spirit. I just thank God that the voices of spirits are out of the range of my own hearing because who could concentrate, or even sleep, with the dark world jabbering around us all the time.
Although God is a spirit being, He's never called that in the Bible. He's just simply said to be spirit (e.g. Gen 1:2, John 4:24).
What's a Sin?
Webster's defines sin as: an offense against religious or moral law. The Bible further defines it as *lawlessness (1John 3:4); which Webster's defines as: not restrained or controlled by law; viz: autonomy and/or anarchy, viz: self rule.
Man's estrangement from God began with breaking just one simple rule (Gen 3:11).
Even if there were no God, there would still be sin because every human society has laws of its own to abide by. Even when kids play sandlot baseball, street hockey, or even a simple game of tag, they play by rules. They may not have official rules; but nevertheless, when kids don't have official rules, they will make up some of their own for the sake of organized play. And if a kid breaks a rule, he's penalized for it in some way because he broke a rule: viz: he sinned.
In the Bible, there are lots of rules and regulations for mankind to abide by; that is, once they know them. But still, ignorance of Bible law is no loop-hole. The Bible's God expects Mankind to obey any and all rules and regulations, yes, even the Man-made ones.
●Rom 2:12-16 …God will punish the Gentiles when they sin, even though they never had God's written Law. And he will punish the Jews when they sin, for they do have the written Law. For it is not merely knowing The Law that brings God's approval. Those who obey The Law will be declared right in God's sight. Even when Gentiles, who do not have God's written Law, instinctively follow what The Law says, they show that in their hearts they know right from wrong. They demonstrate that God's Law is written within them, for their own consciences either accuse them or tell them they are doing what is right.
Basically, what that passage is saying is that it's a sin to violate your own conscience. Whatever is right and wrong in your own particular sphere, is, for you, the law. And if you break your law; whether it's a Man-made law, or a God-made law, or even a law you made for yourself; you sin because nobody is above their own law, not even God— and your sin goes on record for later because that's just the way law works. If you play by the rules, all goes well. If you break the rules, you're penalized in some way.
●Rom 13:1-5 …Obey the government, for God is the one who put it there. All governments have been placed in power by God. So those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow. For the authorities do not frighten people who are doing right, but they frighten those who do wrong. So do what they say, and you will get along well. The authorities are sent by God to help you. But if you are doing something wrong, of course you should be afraid, for you will be punished. The authorities are established by God for that very purpose, to punish those who do wrong. So you must obey the government for two reasons: to keep from being punished and to keep a clear conscience.
According to Rom 2:7, in order to obtain eternal life via "doing good" it's necessary to be *persistent, which Webster's defines as: existing for a long time, or longer than usual time; i.e. continuously; viz: consistently. Since nobody does good consistently— viz: without letting up now and then —it only stands to reason that nobody will succeed in obtaining eternal life via doing good.
●Rom 3:23 …For all have sinned
●1John 1:10 …If we claim we have not sinned, we insinuate that God is spreading false information about us.
What's The Wrath Of God?
●Acts 17:31 ...For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.
The Bible's God is primarily cheerful.
●Gal 5:22 …The fruit of the Spirit is… Joy
Usually, when the Bible speaks of the "wrath" of God, it's not talking about His personality nor about fits of rage. It's talking about criminal justice. If you were to meet with your local authorities (cops, judges, prosecutors, jailers etc) at a sports bar, I think they would be very affable and have a good time just like all the regular people. But when you're on the wrong side of the law, then those good-time Charlies can no longer be Mr. Nice Guy. It's nothing personal; it's just the business of law enforcement and criminal justice, which is regarded as "wrath" (cf. Rom 13:1-4).
Justice can be defined as the administration of law without passion or prejudice; leading to the assignment of merited rewards, punishments, and/or acquittal.
The wrath of God is not much different than the proceedings of any other criminal justice system. Accused have to stand trial, evidence will be introduced, witnesses called; and they'll either be convicted or acquitted. Those that are convicted receive punishment; viz: wrath.
●Rom 2:6-11 . .God will give to each person according to what he has done. To those who seek glory, honor and immortality by persistence in doing good, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.
In my opinion, it's a fool who would take their chances in court with the Bible's God. His process is very thorough; with no plea bargaining nor leniency for first time offenders; no mitigating circumstances; no time off for good behavior nor possibility of parole— the scales of justice have to balance: eye for eye, tooth for tooth, injustice for injustice, abuse for abuse, burning for burning, curse for curse, etc: even every idle word that men speak, will be weighed in the balances; not just their serious words.
●Matt 12:36-37 ...But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every thoughtless word they have spoken. For by your words you will either be acquitted or condemned.
People will also be answering for all the things they did in private when they thought no one was looking.
●Heb 4:12-13 ...For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Every transgression will receive a fair and equitable amount of retribution.
●Heb 2:1-3 . .We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?
Let me give you a rough idea of just how bad it's really going to be.
Supposing the penalty for a lie is 5 lashes and the accused has 200 counts of lying against them. That means that each count will receive 5 lashes, adding up to 1,000 lashes for those 200 lies. But that's only the beginning.
Suppose the penalty for using God's name in profanity is 30 lashes, and that same offender's lifetime accumulation is 500 counts of blasphemy; which isn't an unreasonable number of counts for someone who lived to be sixty or seventy. They would be given 30 lashes for each of those 500 counts; adding up to 15,000 lashes on top of the 1,000 they already received for 200 lies.
But then supposing the penalty for defamation of character is 15 lashes and that same offender, over the years— via gossip, demeaning comments, arbitrary accusations, and thoughtless remarks —impugned innocent reputations a total of 85 times. They would receive 15 lashes for each count, adding up to a total of 1,275 lashes. So then, for just those three crimes alone, that one offender would be given a grand total of 17,275 lashes.
It gets worse. Offenders who knew at the time that what they were doing was wrong, will be punished much more severely than those who did so uninformed.
●Luke 12:47-48 . .And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.
In reality then, long life can be a curse rather than a blessing, and for some people, it would have been far better if they had died as a child than to face God as a senior citizen. By the time the damned are carried out of the Bible God's courtroom to be thrown still alive into the reservoir of liquid flame spoken of in Rev 20:11-15, they will look as though they were dragged through a field of concertina wire and dropped into a cotton gin.
It's very likely that many will not only have their flesh flayed open; but suffer a number of broken bones as well; because for some offenses, it takes way more than a whipping to set things right. For example, lies generate repercussions, which will be taken into consideration during the punishment phase of the liar's trial; so that they will not only be punished for the act of telling lies, but also for the effects of those lies.
Same with defamation of character. One's reputation— their good name —once tarnished, effects their quality of life for years to come. That can't be ignored and swept under the rug.
And blaspheme too. Denigrating the Bible God's name in profanity has an influence upon those who hear it; perhaps even egging them on to take up the habit of blaspheme themselves when normally they wouldn't if left on their own. Many a parent is going to pay for teaching their own children how to cuss.
●Isa 52:14 . .Many were amazed when they saw him— beaten and bloodied, so disfigured one would scarcely tell he was human.
If the Bible's God would let people do that kind of damage to His own kin, what do you suppose He has in store for people in this day and age who mock His own kin and make remarks about him? Well . .that's not too hard to figure out is it? Fair's fair. At the very least, they will be beaten and bloodied beyond recognition, same as he was.
What's a Hell?
The Bible's Hell is a netherworld place of conscious suffering for people it defines as unrighteous. Sheol— the Old Testament's Hebrew word for Hell —is ambiguous and can, depending on context, indicate either a place of conscious suffering or a place of conscious peace.
However, there is a word in the New Testament's Greek that actually does specifically identify a place of conscious suffering in the netherworld. The word is geena (gheh'-en-nah); which identifies a valley near Jerusalem that apparently once served as the ancient city's landfill, where fires were kept burning day and night doing the double duty of incinerating a constant waste stream of urban refuse and the corpses of dead animals and low income citizens. In a place like that, it's reasonable to expect the presence of maggots too (Mark 9:43-48). Geena is a word commonly used to indicate a place spoken of in the New Testament as the final destination of the wicked; and it's my opinion that it actually refers to the reservoir of liquid flame in Rev 20:11-15.
Geena itself is spoken of 12 times in the New Testament— eleven times by Jesus, and once by James. In every instance; geena is associated with fire. I believe it's geena to which Jesus referred when he spoke of a fire that shall never be quenched (Mark 9:43-48). Paul too, spoke of a punitive fire that's everlasting (2Ths 1:7-10).
One only had to look at Jerusalem's landfill back in Jesus' day to obtain a graphic picture of possible conditions to expect in the real Hell; what with all the fire, the rubbish, the discards, the maggots, and the rotting corpses. Back in the 50's when igniting dumps was legal, I was always awed as a child at the eerie aura-like glow on the night-time horizon in the direction of the dump near our home whenever they burned it; which was practically every night because in those days, nobody covered the refuse with bulldozers and plastic like they do now, so unless they burned on a regular basis, the refuse would pile up too high.
No matter what people's estimation of the real Hell— whether it causes instant extinction or permanent suffering, geena is not a pretty picture, nor is it something pleasant to look forward to. In fire and ice, the first parts of the human body effected are the extremities; nose, ears, fingers and toes; and in the case of women, their breasts. When people get banished to the lake of liquid flame, the first thing to go will be their hair, and then their extremities; and in the case of women extremities would include their breasts, and for men their privates. As grisly as that scene will be, I think the worst will be all the shrieking and yelping pouring out of the lungs of the damned as they splash in.
A second Greek word for Hell, used in but one single instance in the New Testament (2Pet 2:4), is tartaroo (tar-tar-o'-o); which possibly corresponds to Tartarus, which, in ancient Greek culture, was known as the deepest abyss of hades; a place to incarcerate the especially-damned in torment. According to Peter, wicked angels are currently the only inmates being held in tartaroo.
There is yet a third Greek word for Hell; which is abussos (ab'-us-sos); meaning: depthless; viz: The Abyss (Luke 8:31, Rev 9:1-2, 9:11, 11:7, 17:8, and 20:1-3).
What's a Gospel?
The New Testament Greek noun for *gospel is euaggelion (yoo-ang-ghel'-ee-on); which means: a good message; i.e. the contents of the message; viz: good news.
Its complimentary action verb is euaggelizo (yoo-ang-ghel-id'-zo) which means: to announce a good message; viz: to announce good news; like this:
●Luke 2:8-12 …And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Don't be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today, in the town of David, a savior has been born to you; he is Messiah, the Lord.
Not every Christian religion has a gospel that qualifies as "good news of great joy"; several— e.g. Catholicism, Church Of Christ, Assemblies Of God, Lutheran, Methodist, and Seventh Day Adventist —announce a version of good news that is neither good nor joyful at all; but is actually bad news indeed because their message— although adequately announcing the reality of Divine retribution —fails to provide a guaranteed fail-safe, sin proof, commandment proof, human-error proof, God proof rescue from it. Roman Catholicism, the very centerpiece and public image of Christianity, can't even guarantee safety for its own Popes— not even for an outstanding nun like Mother Teresa of Calcutta (a.k.a. Kolkata).
( Friday, April 8, 2005; millions of Catholics around the world— including Cardinals, Bishops, and Monsignors —prayed *for Karol Wojtyla during his funeral. Let me point out something that should go without saying: if someone has already gone on to eternal life; is it really necessary to continue praying *for them? Of course not. They're home free. The millions of Catholics Karol Wojtyla left behind should be the ones in need of prayer; not him. )
Is that supposed to be good news of great joy? No, that kind of news isn't good news of great joy at all; but, in reality, is very bad news indeed because if Popes, and nuns like Mother Teresa, are in danger of going to Hell, then what *great joy* does news like Romanism's gospel have to offer rank and file pew warmers? None, no joy at all. So then, truly good news should be exciting and beneficial to everyone who hears it; regardless of whether they're sinners or saints, Jew or Gentile, male or female, adult or child, rich or poor, slave or free, smart or dumb, educated or ignorant, literate or illiterate.
The angel of Luke 2:8-12 announced the birth of a savior. Webster's defines a savior as one who rescues. You've seen examples of rescuers— firemen, cops, EMT paramedics, Coast Guard units, snow patrols, and mountain rescue teams. Rescuers typically save people who are facing imminent death and/or grave danger.
I want you to think about something. What the h_ll good would the savior of Luke 2:8-12 really be to anybody if he couldn't guarantee a fail-safe, sin proof, commandment proof, human-error proof, God proof rescue from the wrath of God? He would be no d_mned good at all; ergo: as a rescuer, Romanism's savior is a plastic, incompetent ninny: a false hope. Thus, zero-hope religions like Roman Catholicism can be easily identified as those Christian religions whose message announces the zero-joy news of a no d_mned good, useless savior that nobody can really depend on for safety in the afterlife.
But, if a savior were to be announced who guaranteed anybody who wants it, a completely free of charge, no strings attached, fail-safe, sin proof, commandment proof, human-error proof, God proof rescue from the wrath of God, and full-time protection from retribution; wouldn't that qualify as good news of great joy? I think you would have to agree with us that news like that would not only most certainly be good; but also cause for celebration, and for ecstatic happiness.
●1Pet 1:8-9 ...You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him, you trust him; and even now you are happy with a glorious, inexpressible joy. Your reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.
What's a Christ?
The name of Jesus Christ isn't really a two-part moniker like it appears; but actually the combination of a proper noun plus a descriptive title.
*Christ is an English version of the New Testament Greek word christos (khris-tos'); which just simply means: anointed. The Old Testament Hebrew equivalent is mashiyach (maw-shee'-akh). The New Testament Greek word used to single out *the anointed is Messias (mes-see'-as); from which is derived the English word Messiah; (e.g. John 1:41, John 4:25).
Webster's defines *anoint as: 1) to smear or rub with oil or an oily substance, 2) to apply oil to as a sacred rite esp. for consecration, 3) to choose by, or as if by, divine election, 3) to designate as if by a ritual anointment.
Anointing ceremonies have been in the Bible ever since Jacob poured oil on his little rough-hewn monument (Gen 28:18). Later uses include installing priests (Ex 29:7), dedicating sites (Ex 29:36), and selecting kings (1Sam 16:12).
The term *anointed can simply identify someone as a specially selected individual for a specific purpose even though no ritual takes place; e.g. the Persian potentate Darius (Isa 45:1).
Though there's no record of Jesus himself getting doused with ritual oil, he is clearly stated in the Bible as a specially selected person on a specific mission for God.
●Isa 61:1-2 …The Spirit of The Lord God is upon me, because The Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of The Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God;
Jesus quoted a portion of that passage in Isaiah in a clear reference to himself.
●Luke 4:16-22 …And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and as was his custom, he entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. And he opened the book, and found the place where it was written;
...The Spirit of The Lord is upon me, because He anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of The Lord.
...And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon him. And he began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."
Thus; Jesus of Nazareth is not just another anointed person, but THE anointed person; a supremely important envoy sent to effect a reconciliation between sinner Man and Holy God because the word "gospel" in Luke's narrative, is the equivalent of "good news" in Isaiah's version— and the good news, is that Jesus is a savior.
●Luke 2:8-12 …And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of The Lord appeared to them, and the glory of The Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Don't be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
What's a Savior?
Why do I call Jesus my savior? Webster's defines a *savior as one who rescues. You've seen rescuers in action: New York City fireman, Cops, Emergency Medical teams, snow patrols, mountain rescue units, and the Coast Guard. Rescuers typically help people to safety who are in danger of imminent death, and/or grave distress; and completely helpless to do anything about it.
Quite a few Christians— among them many Catholics —have no savior; and will face the wrath of God solo, utterly frightened out of their wits, shrieking, sobbing, and yelping: eyes darting about looking for something, for anyone, for anything, to grasp and cling to as the grim reality of their fate begins to sink in when they're dragged off in the grip of powerful spirit beings to be thrown alive into a reservoir of liquid fire. The irony of it all is that the one giving the order for their eternal estrangement from God will be none other than the central figure of their own religion (Acts 17:31). I fairly cringe with horror just thinking about Christians like that.
Jesus is potentially everybody's savior, but he's not really your savior until you've actually taken advantage of his crucified body as a ransom to effect your rescue from criminal justice.
●Matt 20:28 …Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.
●1Tim 2:6 …who gave himself as ransom for all.
Webster's defines a *ransom as: a consideration paid or demanded for the release of someone or something from captivity. There's more than one way to effect a ransom. You could fork over a bag of cash to rescue a kidnap victim, or you could pay off someone's bills and get them out of debt, or you could step up and take someone's place; like this:
There wasn't enough life boats for all the passengers aboard Titanic when she sank on her maiden voyage; not enough by half. If someone already aboard a boat were to give up their seat, they would in effect be sacrificing their own life to save another's. That's what my savior did for me on Calvary. He gave up his own life to ransom mine from the wrath of God.
Jesus is not only my savior, but he's also my *redeemer. A redeemer is someone who pays a debt for you that you can't possibly pay yourself; e.g. a person who scrapes up enough money to pay your back taxes so you don't lose your home, or comes up with the money to liberate you from slavery or indenture. Jesus is my redeemer in that it was he himself who paid the ransom for my rescue with his own life.
You may call him the savior if you like, and you will not be incorrect. But I will always think of him as *my savior because what he did for me on Calvary is so personal; and beyond the scope of human gratitude. Because of a man I've never even met, I'm now safe and secure; and in absolutely no danger of the wrath of God.
●Rom 5:6-10 …When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, no one is likely to die for a good person, though someone might be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God's sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God's judgment. For since we were restored to friendship with God by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be delivered from eternal punishment by his life.
●1Thes 1:9-10 …And they speak of how you are looking forward to the coming of God's Son from heaven— Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment.
Why The Crucifixion?
●Isa 52:14-15 …Many were amazed when they saw him— beaten and bloodied, so disfigured one would scarcely know he was a person. And he will again startle many nations. Kings will stand speechless in his presence. For they will see what they had not previously been told about; they will understand what they had not heard about.
As a young Catholic, it was impressed upon me that Jesus' crucifixion was little more than persecution— that he was a martyr, a victim of violent circumstances beyond his control. But that view totally misses the point. Jesus was destined to be executed on a cross before even one single atom of the current cosmos was created into existence.
●1Pet 1:18-20 …For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him for this purpose long before the world began, but now in these final days, he was sent to the earth for all to see (cf. Rev 13:8).
Not only was Jesus a ransom, but he was also a proxy.
●Isa 53:4-6 …Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins! But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet The Lord laid on him the guilt and sins of us all.
Do you understand what the word proxy means? How about vicarious? Those words mean that someone stands in for you; like a pinch hitter. Stockholders are often sent notices in the mail about stockholders meetings. But it isn't mandatory for the stockholders to go in person. Stockholders can delegate someone, usually their broker, to do their voting at the meeting in their place. Proxies have all the power of attorney to cast a vote just as if stockholders were there in person doing it themselves. Same with pinch hitters. If they get on base, their client is on base; if they get out, their client is out.
That's precisely how the crucifixion works. It's a proxy participation. It's all the same as if I was myself nailed up on that cross receiving retribution for violating God's law. Christ is the whipping boy for every sin I already, and ever will commit, even for the ones I haven't even done yet; including the psyche within me that incubates those sins: the whole and entire *me that I am.
Do people have to clean up their act before God will apply Christ's crucifixion to their credit? Absolutely not because Jesus died for the ungodly, not the godly (Rom 4:5-8). Do they have to be a goody-goody from now on to keep from losing their proxy? No. I mean; after all, nobody had to be a goody-goody before Christ died for them to begin with; so it would be tantamount to double jeopardy to expect them to become a goody-goody now in order to keep from losing their proxy.
●Rom 5:6-11 …You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
...Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Reconciliation is an important word in marriage counseling. It just simply means that two parties who were at one time alienated and estranged from one another have managed to work out their differences. And that's very important in criminal justice too; like when an offender pays their debt to society. Fines, community service, jail and/or prison time, and capital punishment, reconciles the offender with society and gets the courts off their back.
People who designate Jesus to be their proxy as regards Divine justice, are guaranteed complete safety and security on their journey to the next life.
●John 5:24 ...I assure you, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.
Why The Resurrection?
According to the Bible; Jesus was raised for at least three reasons. One was to certify his relationship to God.
●Rom 1:4 … through the Spirit of holiness he was declared, with power, to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead (cf. John 20:24-29).
Another was to certify his appointment as mankind's future judge.
●Acts 17:31 …He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising him from the dead.
And a third was to create a righteous basis for acquitting sinners.
●Rom 4:25 …He was delivered over to death for our sins; and was raised to life for our justification.
The New Testament Greek word for "raised to life" is egeiro (eg-i'-ro) which means: (through the idea of collecting one's faculties); to waken; viz: rouse (literally: from sleep, from sitting or lying, from disease, from death) or (figuratively: from obscurity, inactivity, ruins, nonexistence)
Although egeiro can imply resurrection, it doesn't necessarily mean resurrection. It can also mean simply to wake up from sleeping (e.g. Matt 8:23-25). and it can mean simply getting up on your feet (e.g. Matt 9:6-7).
The New Testament Greek word for *justification is: dikaiosis (dik-ah'-yo-sis) which means: acquittal
Webster's defines *acquittal as: a setting free from the charge of an offense by verdict, sentence, or other legal process.
Although Jesus was delivered over to death for our sins, his crucifixion alone isn't quite adequate to fully liberate sinners from their due retribution. It was only after he was "egeiro" — revived and put back on his feet —that sinners could be guaranteed full and complete immunity from the wrath of God.
●1Cor 15:17 …And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!
Some of the Corinthian believers were very unsavory characters when Paul first met up with them; but via the Gospel's powers and benefits, they were rendered fully suitable to go to Heaven— all of them —including the homosexuals and the male prostitutes.
●1Cor 6:9-11 …Don't you know that those who do wrong will have no share in the Kingdom of God? Don't fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, who are idol worshipers, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, blackguards, and swindlers— none of these will have a share in the Kingdom of God. There was a time when some of you were just like that, but now your sins have been fully washed away, and you have been set apart for God. You have been acquitted because of what the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God have done for you.
I have no doubt that when judgment day comes for the rest of the world, there are going to be people standing before God facing eternal suffering who will see some of their old acquaintances in the courtroom gallery whom they knew in life as gays and lesbians, as tax cheats, as thieves, as people who used foul language, as dishonest businessmen, as desperate housewives, as convicts and murderers, as heavy drinkers, as selfish, self centered, arrogant, bigoted, egotistical, thoughtless and cruel, as money grubbers, vandals, and as crooks and fornicators et al. To their utter amazement they will see those old acquaintances dressed in glistering white garments and wonder to themselves; "What the h_ll is going on here!? I knew so-and-so in life. He deserves to go to Hell just as much as I do; not sitting there in a holier-than-thou gallery watching my fate. I never did half the dirt that hypocrite did in his own life!"
(chuckle) What the luckless, Hell-damned sinner is unaware of is that via Jesus' resurrection, his acquaintances were rendered completely acquitted, and the record of their sinful lives totally deleted on the cross, so that God has nothing to hold against them (Rom 8:31-39). For all practical intents and purposes; God now regards those hypocrites as 100% pure innocent people who never sinned even one time in their entire life, nor will ever sin from now on.
Therefore, via Jesus' resurrection, I'm now a freed man. In response to my God-granted acquittal; I fully agree with the angel's announcement at Luke 2:10, that Jesus' arrival was certainly good news of great joy! If you knew for certain that God has permanently loosed you from any, and all, charges held against yourself— and/or ever will accumulate against yourself —wouldn't you be happy about it? I think you would, because the benefits of such an acquittal are immediately apparent: You would actually, and really and truly, be on your way to Heaven!
The interesting aspect about this particular acquittal is that, according to Rom 5:6-20, it's effects are similar to how Adam's one sin made all men sinners. In the like manner, Jesus' one crucifixion has the potential to make all men innocent. This is a one-time kind of acquittal just as Adam's sin was a one-time kind of condemnation. So that it isn't necessary to keep seeking acquittal after acquittal for your sins. No, you need this special acquittal only just the one time and you don't need to get it again any more than you can expect to get Adam's condemnation again and again. Adam's act and its consequences is the model that explains Jesus' act and its consequences.
Romans 5:6-20 has probably been responsible for producing more ex Catholics than any other passage in the Bible. Just about every ex I've spoken with, including an ex priest who actually served and conducted masses in the Vatican, came to a realization via Romans 5:6-20.
Objection: That's preposterous! Nobody can get a one-time acquittal. It's necessary to keep coming back to God with timely confessions (1John 1:9-10).
You've erred by confusing the acquittal based upon Jesus' resurrection with the washings based upon his crucifixion (1John 2:1-2). The model for this can be seen in the dedication process of the Aaronic priests in the Old Testament. They were dedicated just one time, and one time only (Ex 29:1-21); but they washed each and every time they reported for duty (Ex 30:18-21); ergo: without first obtaining the acquittal, confessions are a futile pastime. Let me explain.
First, let me state emphatically, that Romans 5:6-20 are the sacred teachings of the inspired Holy Apostle Paul. Thus; as the testimony of God; Paul's teachings are immutable and cannot be annulled. So that everything I said previously in regards to that passage is true; every last word. So then, it becomes imperative to harmonize the one-time acquittal Paul discusses in his epistle of Romans with the multiple washings John discusses in his epistle of 1John.
In a nutshell: the one-time acquittal available via Christ's resurrection is a criminal justice procedure intended only for sinners on their way to Hell. The washings obtainable via confessions, although made possible by Jesus' crucifixion (1John 2:2), aren't available to sinners on their way to Hell; and wouldn't do them any good anyway while they remain fugitives in grave danger of the wrath of God. No, the washings obtained via confessions in 1John 1:9-10 serve a different purpose and are a sacred privilege reserved only for current members of God's family (1John 2:1-2, 1John 3:1-2); it is not a privilege granted to outsiders. The reason, is that confessions are like the already-dedicated Aaronic priests' daily washings in that they serve to cleanse the family of God in preparation for sacred service; viz: fellowship.
●1John 1:5-10 ...This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
John said "if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1John 1:9). The pronouns we, us, and our, don't refer to John's fellow men at large. No; within the context of the epistle of 1John, those pronouns refer only to the author's fellow believers— his siblings in God's home— not to outsiders. And according to 1John 5:9-13, the author's siblings all possess eternal life; so that any professing Christian claiming to be a member of God's family, while not possessing eternal life, is a Christless fraud.
Outsiders— e.g. Christians who don't have eternal life —desperately need immunity above all else: they're fugitives from justice who desperately need to be moved out of the kill zone and given safety and security in God's home. The resurrection's acquittal accomplishes that very purpose. This very special acquittal acquits an entire lifetime of trespasses, not just some now and then some later (2Cor 5:19, Col 2:13). After a sinner has been fully acquitted and transferred into God's home (Col 1:13-14), from then on, any, and all sins they commit are no longer criminal matters; no, au contraire, their sins are family matters; which is a whole lot better arrangement; wouldn't you agree?
What's a Child of God?
●1John 3:1-3 …Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God
We meet people all the time who feel that everybody is the Bible God's children simply by virtue of the fact that He is everyone's creator. But that's not really true.
In order to be accepted into the Bible God's home, it is necessary for candidates to meet two immutable prerequites:
1) Candidates have to undergo a second birth.
●John 1:12-13 …But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
According to Jesus' own personal testimony, second births are not optional; no, they're a must.
●John 3:3 …I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God.
●John 3:6-8 …Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit dispenses life from Heaven. So don't be surprised at my statement that you must be born again.
2) Candidates have to undergo adoption.
●Rom 8:14-16 …For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption. And by him we cry, "Dad! Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.
●Gal 4:4-5 …But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as children.
●Eph 1:4-5 …Long ago, even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ.
So then, the two immutable earmarks of God's own children are: 1) a second birth, and 2) adoption. A third would be the special owner's marking, which is God's Spirit itself (Eph 1:13-14).
Everyone else claiming to be the Bible God's children are only fooling themselves. They're not His children at all; especially professing Christians who lack eternal life. According to God's own personal testimony, those kinds of Christians are quite Christless.
●1John 5:11-12 …And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in His son. So whoever has God's son has this life; and whosoever does not have this life, does not have His son.
No Christless Christian can legitimately claim to be God's child.
●Rom 8:9 …If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he doesn't belong to Christ.
And if they don't have the Spirit of Christ, then they certainly don't have the special owner's marking of Eph 1:13-14 either.
Which Religion Is Right?
We're confident that the New Testament's Jesus is a man of integrity who would never falsify information nor misrepresent his Father. According to Jesus' own personal testimony, only Christians are making it to safety.
●John 14:6 …I am the way…. No one comes to the Father except through me.
●John 3:14-18 …And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so I, the son of man, must be lifted up on a pole, so that everyone who believes in me will have eternal life. For God so cared for the world that he donated His only son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God didn't send His son into the world to condemn it, but to rescue it. There is no judgment awaiting those who trust him. But those who do not believe in him are already condemned
So then, in order to be a child of God, people at least have to be a Christian.
●Gal 3:27 …For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
So then, people like Atheists, Jews, Baháh'í, Buddhists, Hindus, Ethnic Religionists, Chinese Universists, Confucianists, Sikhs, Shintoists, Spiritists, Zoroastrians, Secular Humanists— and most especially Muslims —are 100% excluded from sonship in the Bible God's own personal family circle.
According to the 2006 World Almanac and Book of Facts, as of 2005, there were approximately
5.3 million Jews
150.6 million Atheists,
7.5 million Baháh'í
375.5 million Buddhists
851.3 million Hindus
252.8 million Ethnic Religionists
402.1 million Chinese Universists
6.5 million Confucianists
25 million Sikhs
2.8 million Shintoists
12.8 million Spiritists
2.6 million Zoroastrians
767.2 Secular Humanists (Agnostics, etc.)
1283.5 million Muslims
So then, worldwide, there was at least 4,142,700,000 people in one of the religions listed above out of the mid-2005 world population of 6,451,429,868. In other words, a minimum of 64/% of the 2005 world was entangled in a non-Christian religion or philosophy.
According to the Gospel, those 64% are not my siblings in the home of the Bible's God; and they are currently just as surely damned to Hell as if they were the Devil's children himself.
●2Cor 4:3-5 …If our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
●1John 5:19 …We know that we are children of God, and that the world around us reclines in evil.
A graphic interpretation 1John 5:19 would be the picture of a father cradling a peacefully sleeping infant in his arms, oblivious that its parents are cannibals; raising their own child for butchering and baking.
According to the Bible, of the people alive today, only those of the Christian religion are making it to Heaven (John 1:12-13, John 3:3-8, John 3:14-18, John 10:28-29, John 14:6, Rom 8:9, Gal 3:27, 2Cor 4:3-5, 1John 5:19).
According to the 2006 World Almanac and Book Of Facts, the approximate number of professing Christians in the six major continents of Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, Northern America, and Oceania as of mid-2004, was 2,106,962,000 or roughly 2.11 billion.
Precisely how many of those professing Xians were actually children of God is difficult to ascertain. However, there are quite a few that can be deducted from the roster right off the bat.
According to Jesus' and his Father's own personal testimony, only Christians in the right-now possession of eternal life qualify as believers. (John 3:14-18, John 5:24, John 6:47, John 10:28, 1John 5:9-12).
So then, we can rule out any, and all, Christian religions that do not permit their adherents to have eternal life till the future. Within that group of religions just happens to be the single largest denomination in the whole world: Roman Catholicism. According to the Almanac, there were approximately 1,105,808,000 Catholics in the six major continents as of mid-2004. Subtracting those 1.1 billion Catholics from the mid-2004 world's 2.11 billion professing Christians leaves a balance of 1,001,154,000, which means that of the 2.11 billion professing Christians in mid-2004, only 47.5% might have qualified as Jesus' sheep.
The mid-2004 population of the world was about 6,375,006,404. So out of those 6.4 billion people, only 1,001,154,000 professing Xians might possibly have qualified as Jesus' sheep; and that's not factoring in the numbers of professing Christians of other denominations who are just as lacking in eternal life as Catholics. That means, at the very minimum, a whopping 84% of the mid-2004 world's population of 6.4 billion people was on its way to Hell when the data was compiled.
●Matt 7:13-14 …The highway to Hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it.
●Matt 22:14 …For many are called, but few are chosen.
●1John 5:19 …We know that we are children of God, and that the world around us reclines in evil.
What's Eternal Life?
Of one thing we can be sure: Eternal Life and Immortality are not synonymous because according to John 5:26 and 1John 1:1-2, the Lord had eternal life but it didn't prevent his death on the cross.
And according to John 6:54, the apostles had eternal life too, but it didn't prevent their deaths either. They're all gone.
Eternal life and Immortality are juxtaposed in 2Tim 1:10; where the terms are connected with a conjunction. They aren't connected with a verb, so that you can't say eternal life is immortality; no, eternal life and immortality are two distinctly different subjects.
In addition, according to John 5:24 and John 6:54, eternal life can be obtained now before people pass on, whereas according to 1Cor 15:51-53, they obtain immortality later.
Eternal life is perpetual in all directions; viz: eternal life always was, it always is, and it always shall be, i.e. there has never a time when eternal life didn't exist, nor will there ever be a time when eternal life won't exist.
Immortality isn't quite that perpetual, nor is it quite that sturdy; plus, it typically never stretches back into the infinite past like eternal life does.
Plus; eternal life is self-sustaining whereas immortality cannot survive on its own; it needs something and/or somebody with the wherewithal to sustain it, viz: God can get by on His own, but immortality cannot get by without God.
Also; eternal life is non physical, while immortality is only physical; which is why it's possible for people to have eternal life while at home in a mortal body.
Christians won't regain the immortality that Adam lost until their resurrections (Rom 8:23-25, 1Cor 15:51-53, and 1Thss 4:14-17). However; it's possible for people to obtain eternal life now before they pass on.
Note the grammar in the passages below. The verb "has" is present tense rather than future, indicating that believers have eternal life right now-- no delay, and no waiting period.
● John 3:36 . . He who believes in the Son has eternal life
● John 6:47 . .Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.
● John 5:24 . . I assure you, those who heed my message, and trust in God who sent me, have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from Death into Life.
● 1John 5:13 . . I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
The right-now possession of eternal life is very crucial because according to God's testimony, as an expert witness in all matters pertaining to Christianity; people lacking eternal life don't have God's son. In other words: they are currently quite christless.
● 1John 5:11-12 . . This is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in His son. So whoever has God's son has this life; and whosoever does not have this life, does not have His son.
Question: Doesn't everybody already have Eternal Life? Aren't people going to exist in eternal suffering for the same length of time as others who will exist in eternal bliss?
People in Hell don't have Eternal Life; they have human life, which is a created kind of life that began in the book of Genesis. According to the sacred, immutable testimony of The Holy Son Of God, people with Eternal Life are not going to spend it in Hell.
●John 10:27-28 ...My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish;
According to the sacred, immutable testimony of The Holy Son Of God, Jesus is the official custodian of Eternal Life; and nobody has it until they get it directly from him.
●John 17:2-4 …You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
Question: What's the advantage of Eternal Life if it doesn't make people live longer?
Eternal doesn't actually make people live longer, nor is it meant to sustain the human body; no, it's meant to impart, and to sustain, God-likeness.
●2Pet 1:3-4 ...As we know Jesus better, his divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life. He has called us to receive his own glory and goodness! And by that same mighty power, he has given us all of his rich and wonderful promises. He has promised that you will escape the decadence all around you caused by evil desires and that you will share in His divine nature.
Now I hope nobody misconstrues Peter to imply that "His divine nature" makes believers a duplicate of God. No, it only gives them an excellent replacement for human nature, so that when they leave this miserable, sinful orb, they will shed their human nature and become people like their sacred sibling Jesus so they can relate to him on his own level rather than on theirs.
Jesus came into this world for two primary reasons. One was to sacrifice his own life to ransom his fellow Jews from the wrath of God, and to rise from the dead for their acquittal. The other, was to reveal the existence of Eternal Life, and to show his fellow Jews how to obtain it.
●1John 1:1-4 …That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched-this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
John's Gospel is laced with references to Eternal Life and to the immutable fact that it is obtainable now, in this life, before people die and pass on. In point of fact, everyone who fails to obtain eternal life before they pass on, are guaranteed a destiny in Hell because Death is the default in the absence of Life.
●John 3:14-19 …And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so I, the Son of Man, must be lifted up on a pole, so that everyone who believes in me will have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it. There is no judgment awaiting those who trust him. But those who do not trust him have already been judged for not believing in the only Son of God.
Since I now already possess Eternal Life, I will escape the big judgment. In fact, according to the sacred, immutable testimony of The Holy Son Of God, I have already escaped it.
●John 5:24 …I assure you, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.
The mind of every Christian not in current possession of Eternal Life; is currently a dead mind, and currently infested with destructive spirit beings.
●Eph 2:1-3 …And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,
The only kind of life that Jesus uses to make people alive is Eternal Life; so that if you don't have it right now; then you are dead right now.
●John 10:27-28 …My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life
●John 17:2-4 …You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
So what does that say about professing Christians who don't have eternal life? It says; 1) they are listening neither to Jesus' voice nor to his message, 2) they are not Jesus' sheep, 3) they exist in Death, 4) they do not know God, and 5) their minds are infested with destructive spirit beings.
●1John 5:11-13 …And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in His son. So whoever has God's son has the life; whoever does not have the life, does not have His son. I write this to you who believe in the son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.
According to John, professing Christians who do not possess Eternal Life are; 1) Christless Christians, and 2) not believing in the son of God.
According to the lord and master of New Testament Christianity; people who are not believing in the son of God, are already condemned.
●John 3:18 …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 2nd Birth
In company with the acquittal available via Jesus' resurrection, I would have to say that a second birth via God's Spirit, as per John 3:3-8, is next in primary importance.
Second births are one of the supernatural aspects of Christianity that some, including quite a few professing Christians, find a little difficult to accept. But be that as it may, and regardless of how one might define a second birth; it isn't an option; no, it's a must.
●John 3:5-8 ...I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying; You must be born again. The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.
According to Jesus, God's spirit performs second births rather than church rites and ritual procedures; and second births aren't as readily detectable as a natural birth because second births are metaphysical rather than physical; ergo: the results just as invisible as the air that's all around us. Since Spirit births are paranormal, it's easy for people to claim they've undergone a second birth and get away with it because there are no scientific instruments like Geiger counters and oscilloscopes available that can prove them wrong. Although human eyes cannot see the air in the wind; still, it's density, it's weight, it's velocity, and its direction can be measured with man-made instruments; but there are no known man-made instruments suitable for studying spirit.
Jesus discussed second births with a rabbi named Nicodemus, whose mind could think of "birth" only in terms of what he understood empirically: from his own personal observations and experiences living as a creature in its natural habitat. Creature birth is a process that Jesus called flesh giving birth to flesh. But a Spirit birth isn't like that. The Spirit doesn't give birth to flesh and blood, but rather, to more of Himself— to spirit.
The Spirit birth that Jesus talked about is really and truly a birth, not just a metaphor for something else; it's a complete do-over from scratch: an act of God rather than a rite or ritual (2Cor 5:17, Gal 6:15); and it's a birth that has to occur while its beneficiary is in this life, rather than the next, because Spirit births are earthly things rather than heavenly things.
●John 3:12 …If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
Jesus said that nobody can either see nor enter the kingdom without first undergoing a second birth. Therefore since second births are a must for everybody; that means all the Old Testament personages had to undergo a second birth too, while they were here, before they passed on, in order to make it to safety.
Second births weren't a new concept in Jesus' day; no, rabbis were supposed to have known about them all along.
●John 3:9-10 ...How can this be?" Nicodemus asked. You are Israel's teacher; said Jesus; and do you not understand these things?
Question: What purpose does a second birth serve? Why is it a must?
Because it's the only practical way to rid sinners of their sinful human nature.
●Col 2:11-14 …When you came to Christ, you were *circumcised, but not by a physical procedure. It was a supernatural procedure— the cutting away of your sinful nature. For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized; and with him you were raised to a new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away.
Medical circumcision surgically amputates flesh from the male organ. Webster's defines *amputation as: to remove by, or as if by, cutting; especially to surgically cut a limb or an organ from the body.
Humanity's sinful nature is that part of Man's being which causes him to sin. Imagine what it would be like to go through the rest of your life— say, maybe another fifty years —denying your feelings, denying your appetites, denying yourself pleasure, denying your lusts, denying your desires, denying your wants, denying your passions, denying your impulses, fighting your attitudes, biting your tongue, and fighting your tendencies; thus finally succeeding in being good enough to go to Heaven. Then what? Are you prepared to fight against nature for eternity? You see, if you go to Heaven with human nature, you will eventually have to be evicted because you will be controlled by the human psyche; which just naturally tends to sin; viz: human beings aren't sinners only when they commit a sin; no, human beings are sinners because they have a propensity to sin.
The invisible circumcision performed without human hands is a supernatural procedure that permanently separates a sinner from their sinful nature; amputating it so the sinner can go into eternity sans their natural feelings, sans their natural impulses, sans their natural wants, sans their natural desires, sans their natural appetites, sans their natural tongue, sans their natural lusts, sans their natural passions, sans their natural attitudes, and sans their natural tendencies.
Question: Doesn't the Christian practice of water baptism accomplish what you're talking about? After all, it's mentioned in the very passage you quoted (Col 2:11-14).
The New Testament Greek word for baptize is baptizo (bap-tid'-zo); which means to immerse, to submerge; to cover over completely so as to thoroughly soak in liquid. There are at least five distinctly specialized baptisms mentioned in the New Testament: baptism with a miracle (1Cor 10:2), baptism with water (Matt 3:1-6), baptism with God's spirit (1Cor 12:13), baptism with fire (Matt 3:11), and baptism with a consecrated death (Luke 12:50).
The baptism of Col 2:11-14 is something entirely different than the standard water baptism ritual which is usually intended by most Christian religions to not only wash away the guilt associated with the Adams' first sin, but also the guilt of any and all past personal sins. However, water baptism can't wash away future sins, and is absolutely powerless to amputate your own personal bent to continue sinning on your own. You and the you that you are, are joined at the hip. You are inseparable from the you that you are except by a supernatural surgical procedure that only a genuine miracle of God can perform.
●Rom 7:14-23 …I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the teachings of God are good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do— this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
...So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's teachings; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.
I'm over 62 years old now— born in January of the year the allies landed at Normandy, and feel very fortunate to make it this far. But nevertheless, I am going to die anyway. Whether from natural causes, crime, or accident— my death is inevitable. But thanks to the Bible's God; the me that I am was crucified on Calvary; and when I rose from the dead in Christ, I was given a new me; a sinless me— a me patterned after Christ. Not only does Christ not sin; but he cannot sin (1John 3:9). Therefore, I have the assurance that when I die, that crucified me will not be going with me to the next life.
If you're a Catholic reading this, you no doubt understand the Immaculate Conception. Well, for now, I'm shackled to the sinful crucified me. But via my second birth; via the miraculous circumcision performed by God, I will leave this life 100% immaculate, never to sin again; eagerly looking forward to associating with my savior, not on my own level; but on his.
●Rom 7:14-24-25 …What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to the laws of God, but in the sinful nature, I am a slave to the laws of sin.
●2Cor 5:16-18 …Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ
The ramifications of a term like "new creation" don't imply a renovation; no, the words "new creation" distinctly identify something brought into existence from scratch just like the earth was brought into existence from scratch in the book of Genesis. For additional details about second births please click Here and Here.
The 2nd Death
●Rev 20:11-15 ...Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the Dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The Dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the Dead that were in it, and death and the netherworld gave up the Dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and the netherworld were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
There are two separate resurrections: one for the Dead, and one for the Living— the Dead being the unrighteous, and the Living being the righteous.
●Dan 12:2 …And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
●John 5:28-29 …Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
While Rev 20:6 depicts the resurrection of the righteous; what we have in Rev 20:11-15 is a video clip of the Dead's resurrection; where the spirits of the damned will be rejoined to their earthly flesh and blood bodies for the purpose of facing all the charges against them in the books that record people's deeds done in their lifetime.
There's a line in Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol where the old miser Scrooge is told he is going to be shown next what all men fear most; which turns out to be death and the hereafter.
As scary as death is; it can't hold a candle to the judgment of God. According to Jesus' own personal testimony, that's to be feared over and above anxiety about death.
●Luke 12:4-6 …I say to you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do to you. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into Hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!
Some people are somehow under the impression that the *Him of whom Jesus testified is Satan. But that simply isn't true; the Devil himself is facing eternal suffering.
●Matt 25:41 …Then He will also say to those on the left hand; Depart from me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels
●Rev 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.
An interesting aspect of the Great White Throne is the status of the people subpoenaed to appear there. They're all dead. There's the dead from the sea; there's the dead from the netherworld, and there's the dead from the graves. Where's the dead from Heaven? There are none because there are no dead in Heaven. Everyone in Heaven is among the living. Here's why.
●Eph 2:1 …And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins
See that? The reason there are no dead in Heaven is because they were transferred from Death into Life while they were still down here on the planet before they passed on. So then, what's the conclusion to draw from that. Well…. according to Jesus' own personal testimony, the Living will never be condemned for their sins; therefore, the Living will only be spectators at the Great White Throne.
●John 5:24 …I assure you, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from Death into Life.
What's another conclusion? Well… it seems pretty obvious to me that professing Xians not yet in possession of eternal life are among the Dead; and I don't think I have to tell you what that means; do I.
After facing all the charges, the Dead will be incinerated in a reservoir of liquid flame, a death akin to burning at the stake. However, I must point out that it's of the opinion of some expositors, far more intelligent, and much better educated than us, that the Dead's flesh and blood bodies won't be completely destroyed in the reservoir. If that's the case, then we may have to expect that the Dead's incineration won't be complete, but rather; will simmer, and simmer, and simmer forever, sort of like a meaty spaghetti sauce.
The same reservoir was previously spoken of in Rev 19:20 as punishment for the beast and the false prophet; and of everyone who receives the beast's mark and worships his image. The same reservoir was also spoken of previously in Rev 20:10 as punishment for the Devil, and as a location where torment for him, and the beast, and the false prophet never ends. The same reservoir is again spoken of up ahead in Rev 21:8 as the expectation of the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars.
Jesus also mentioned that the final destination of the wicked in infested with peculiar worms (Mark 9:43-48). The New Testament Greek word for worms is skolex (sko'-lakes) which identifies grubs, maggots, and/or earth-worms. The worms, of course, are implied to feed upon the flesh and blood bodies of the damned just as normal worms in life thrive on an open corpse. A worm that lives in liquid flame is pretty amazing, but I guess if God could create a natural worm, it shouldn't be too difficult for Him to create supernatural one too.
The major difference between the two resurrections is the kind of body that people will be given. The righteous will be given brand new, supernatural, immortal bodies. The unrighteous will be given back their original bodies. The bodies of the righteous will never have to die again because, for one thing, their new immortal bodies won't be able to die (1Cor 15:35-57). However, and this is the tragic part, the original bodies of the unrighteous weren't immortal in this life, nor will they be in the next.
Can you just imagine the bitter disappointment the unrighteous are going to experience at their resurrection? They'll be brought up from the netherworld and rejoined with their bodies to stand trial as whole men and women; probably at first very happy and very thrilled to be back in flesh and blood again; thinking the worst is over. But then, to their utter horror, and bitter disappoint, they'll be informed that, after their day in court, they'll be horribly disfigured by incineration in liquid fire: a sentence akin to burning at the stake.
As I see Rev 20:15, the Dead won't be roasted, but rather, suffer total bodily immersion in a flaming liquid; which will of course result in third degree burns over every square inch of their entire body. Actually, sudden immersion in a flaming liquid is probably relatively humane. The result is third degree burns over 100% of the body. I've experienced a third degree burn, and it hurt for only a little bit and was almost painless because third degree burns cook the meat deep enough to destroy nerve endings. Second degree burns are far more painful.
Dead Men Walking
●John 3:14-19 ...Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.
That passage is one of Jesus' more serious statements that isn't getting enough press these days. Jesus keyed the understanding of it to Num 21:5-9, where the people of Israel became weary of eating manna all the time at every meal. But instead of courteously, and diplomatically, petitioning their Lord and Master for a different diet, they became hostile and confrontational, angrily demanding better food. In reply; The Lord sent a swarm of poisonous vipers among them; which began biting and killing people; and every bite was 100% fatal, no exceptions. Then the people realized their mistake and asked Moses to intercede. In reply; The Lord instructed Moses to fashion a metallic effigy of the vipers and hoist it up on a pole in plain view so that everyone dying from venom could look to the effigy for relief.
The only act of faith the snakebite victims had to perform was just "look to" the serpent's effigy and they would be cured. You know what it means to look to something? It means to fully depend upon it. Moses hoisted the effigy up on a pole high enough where everyone could see it, and all in the world they had to do was find a spot where they could see it. Thus, Jesus' crucifixion is for everybody, because everybody is, with no exceptions, quite literally a dead man walking.
●2Cor 5:14 ...because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead
Within the context of John 3:14-18, anybody who has yet to fully depend upon Jesus' crucifixion to protect themselves from the wrath of God is an unbeliever, and already condemned to death, no waiting period. So that death isn't the option, no, death is the default, it's life that's the option, and according to Jesus, the majority will not obtain it. So then, what are the ramifications of that? Simple. The Dead's names aren't written in the book of Life; ergo: according to Rev 20:11-15, they will be thrown into a reservoir of liquid flame.
Someone might be inclined to protest and ask how I can call people who never heard the gospel unbelievers? That's simple. Unbelief isn't always an act of the will; it's also a condition of ignorance. If people have yet to trust Jesus' crucifixion to protect themselves from the wrath of God merely because they've never heard about him, then they abide in a status of unbelief: that's the default; and that's primarily what motivates missionaries to travel the world to foreign lands and peoples.
●John 16:8-9 ...And when the advocate comes, he will convince the world of its sin, and of God's righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world's sin is unbelief in me.
So then, disbelief is different than rejection. Rejecting Christ is a conscious act; while disbelief is a state which is oftentimes simply the result of ignorance. Missionaries are assisted by God's spirit in convincing human beings that they are already on their way to Hell and only Jesus' crucifixion can ransom them from it.
You see, ignorance is no excuse, and if there were some snake-bitten Jew who weren't informed about Moses' serpentary effigy in time, they died because the bites were 100% fatal, no exceptions. In point of fact, quite a few Jews did die before the effigy was constructed in time to save them (Num 21:6).
Let me ask our visitors: Can you look God right in the eye this very moment and announce, in all honesty and a good conscience; "I am coming to heaven and not even You can stop me now."
If perchance there's someone visiting who can't do that, then I have no choice but to conclude that they don't have enough confidence in Jesus' crucifixion to qualify as a believer; ergo: they're a dead man walking just as surely as those Jews who were bitten by deadly snakes and just as surely as primitive peoples throughout the world who have yet to even hear of a somebody named Jesus.
Objection: The Lord promised in John 3:16 that he would save the World
According to the Bible's Lord, the majority of the world isn't making it to safety.
●Matt 7:13-14 …Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
●Matt 22:14 ...For many are invited, but few are chosen.
Yes, The Bible's Jesus came into the world to rescue it from the wrath of God. But not everybody in the world is going to be rescued because their lack of belief will cause them to miss out. According to the Bible's Lord, only people who listen to Christ's message, and believe, benefit from his crucifixion. the rest abide in a condition of Death.
●John 5:24 …I assure you, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.
Within the context of John 3:14-18, anybody who has yet to fully depend upon Jesus' crucifixion to protect themselves from the wrath of God is an unbeliever; ergo: they're already condemned, no waiting period.
Objection: The Lord is compassionate and would never run an eternal torture mill for his lost sheep.
Yes, that's true. The Bible Lord's sheep are perfectly safe.
●John 10:27-28 …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.
But only believers qualify as the Bible Lord's sheep; the rest of the world is quite damned: which includes Bahai, Confucians, Jains, Shintoists, Sikhs, Spiritists, Taoists, Zoroastrians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Scientologists, Hindus, Atheists, Agnostics, Unitarians, Mormons, and Jehovah's Witnesses.
●Eph 1:16-19 …I cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe
Objection: Jesus didn't say what it is that those who do not believe are condemned to in John 3:17.
If you'll permit me; I'll walk you through it.
According to John 3:15 and John 3:16, the benefit for accepting Jesus' application of Moses' metallic serpent to his own crucifixion is eternal life.
Therefore, according to the analogy, the default for not accepting Jesus' application of Moses' metallic serpent is eternal death because death was the default for everyone bitten by the snakes; no exceptions; and life was the benefit for everyone who looked to the metallic serpent for relief, no exceptions. If you're a bit fuzzy on the concept of eternal death, you should review The 2nd Death.
Heaven's No Fun
●John 5:24 ...Truly, truly, I say to you, he who listens to my message, and believes in Him who sent Me, has eternal life and will never be condemned for his sins; he has passed from death into life.
●John 3:14-19 ...Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert (Num 21:5-9), so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
My reward, for trusting in Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection as an adequate remedy for my fatal condemned-to-Hell status, is a brand spanking new body (1Cor 15:35-57); so the brain that I have now will be exterminated. I'm supposed to get a brand new personality too. Exactly what I'm going to look like, or who I'm going to be; I really don't know— and I don't care as long as it's an improvement over who and what I am now; and as long as I'm safe from the wrath of God.
Objection: If you get a new body, a new brain, and a new personality, then you won't be *you.
That's the whole idea of a second birth: to escape the me that I am now.
In the book of Revelation, Jesus is shown handing out stones with names on them that are described as "new" names (Rev 2:17). Only each person receiving a stone will know (at least at first) what that new name is. I believe those new names are actually new personalities that will replace the natural personalities that Jesus' sheep were born with the first time. So that the Cliff Weber I was born as the first time will be no more— poof! —gone forever. So that if people I know in this life were to meet me in the next, they won't recognize me; no, they simply wouldn't believe it— they will swear up and down somebody has stolen Cliff's identity and trying to impersonate him.
Question: Don't you think Heaven is just a return to Eden?
Adam and Eve had human life, which is a fragile kind of life subject to aging and death. I far prefer eternal life because I want a kind of life that can never get old and die. The only way Adam and Eve could experience a degree of immortality was by fortifying their diet with nourishment from the tree of life. Take away the tree, and look what happened: they got old and died (Gen 3:22). That is not my idea of a Heaven.
Objection: It is only my ideal that would be a Heaven to me. The Bible doesn't even come close to making its Heaven appealing.
Your *ideal is subject to the limitations of your own human imagination. Do you know everything there is to know? No, I don't think you do— not even geniuses know everything there is to know, and I seriously doubt you're a genius because the really smart people don't read rubbish like our web site's Sunday school.
You know, it never seems to fail that every time we think we've seen the best that life has to offer, somebody comes up with a better idea because there's always room for improvement: better cars, better cameras, better phones, better eyeglasses, a better environment, a better neighborhood, a better home, a better fertilizer, a better detergent, better movie effects, you name it; things are always improving and/or becoming more user friendly and us commoners are constantly astonished at what manufacturers are coming up with all the time. But just think what those manufacturers could invent if they had the mind of God to work with. Actually, it's impossible to know what God might invent because the three-pound lump of organic tissue that produces the human mind has no clue to the expanse of the mind of God.
The Heaven that God has planned for beneficiaries of Christ's crucifixion is a Genesis: a new cosmos— not just sitting around with a hymnal. A whole new planet Earth is coming down the pipe and I'm going to be there when it arrives (Isa 65:17, 2Pet 3:10-12, Rev 21:1-5).
Heaven is forever; so that after I've lived in the new cosmos for eighteen thousand years, I still have forever ahead of me. Each new day will bring me no closer to the end of forever than the days before.
The new cosmos is a place prepared for a prepared people. Nobody can go there with a normal state of mind because they would be very unhappy, bored, and frustrated: they wouldn't fit in; they'd be lonely, and very uncomfortable. Some drastic changes have to be made to Man's psyche in order for him to be comfortable in the presence of God and in the company of holy people. I've heard it said that if a busload of inmates from Hell were given liberty passes to vacation in Heaven for a month, they would all return the first night because Heaven offers so little satisfaction for normal people.
The next Genesis will be a place of peace and purity. There'll be no drunkenness, no over-eating, bar hopping, exotic dancing, pornography, wife swapping, orgies, nor adult amusements. Things like hatred, revenge, quarreling, bickering, ridicule, chafing, sniping, roasts, demeaning comments, name calling, and thoughtless remarks will not be permitted. Neither will adultery, profanity, immorality, deceit, sneering, greed, selfish ambition, dishonesty, dissembling, gossip, slander, spite, and rivalry. Gays and lesbians will no longer practice their usual private life. Nobody will be allowed to shack up, and no one will bear babies out of wedlock. According to Jesus, there won't even be any sex (Mark 12:25) and I think most virile people would agree that a world without carnal pleasure is not their idea of a Heaven at all.
I'm sure you can see right off that the average person, if suddenly thrust into that kind of an environment, would really feel out of place if they couldn't be themselves there; hence the absolute necessity of a second birth. Jesus didn't list second births as an option; no, he listed them as a *must*.
●John 3:3 …I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.
●John 3:6-7 …You must be born again.
The Bible totally excludes normal people from the kingdom of God.
●1Cor 15:50 …I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
So then, before anybody of human descent can even begin to enjoy a future with God, they first have to undergo a do-over: not just a renovation, no, something far more thorough than that. They have to undergo a complete rebuild from scratch otherwise Heaven would be a real drag.
To put this in perspective, imagine if tomorrow morning you had to stop living with human beings and start living among termites for the remainder of your life. How would you like that? Personally, I don't think you'd enjoy a termite's life at all. I think you'd be bored and frustrated as a termite. Well… that's what Heaven would be like if you were to go there as yourself; as the "you" that you are now. You'd be out of your element; and totally miserable; especially with having to comply with all the restrictions and such. And if you're struggling to fully comply with God's commandments now; what makes you think it will be any easier in a future where 100% compliance is the norm?
Hell's No Fun
I just wish there were tour buses to Hell so people could see what's in store for them down there. The abuse Jesus suffered was child's play in comparison to the horrors, and to the misery, of souls in Hell. For one thing, his suffering lasted only about twelve hours; not even one whole day. People in Hell aren't doing time like convicts in stir or a soldier in Viet Nam expecting to return to the world after his tour of duty is up; no, inmates in Hell go day, after day, after day, after day, after day, infinitum. There's no relief from the pain and discomfort, no vacations, no recreation, no reading materials, no hobbies: there's absolutely nothing to do but eat your heart out and writhe in fire. The mental atrophy, and the boredom that must result from that kind of mindless existence is beyond explanation. And the din: think of the volume of noise down there with all the groans, the wailing and sobbing, and the screams, shrieks, arguments, and fights going on; like an overcrowded mental ward. People can get pritt-tee cranky when they're miserable.
Conditions are really bad, and no one has a good attitude about it. Everyone is sad, blue, and lonely; and many are fraught with anxiety that their relatives— their own children, their grandchildren, their brothers and sisters, their aunts and uncles, their spouses —are all coming down there too and they're utterly helpless to do one single thing to prevent it.
Death; the Trap-door Spider
A fascinating spider lives in the soils of San Diego called the Trap-door. It's about a fourth the size of a Tarantula, but far more aggressive. It's skin is smooth and shiny black like patent leather; and it's legs are stocky and stout. The Trap-door looks for all the world like a spider that's into body-building, and works out with weights.
The Trap-door's home is a burrow sealed with a hatch cover that fits the burrow's mouth so well, and blends so perfectly with the soil that it's just about impossible to see unless you know specifically what to look for. The spider lurks just under the hatch and can spring out and catch unsuspecting insects in the blink of an eye. I know, because I once lightly brushed a small twig by one's burrow to see if I could make it come out and was startled wide-eyed and off-balance by the spider's incredibly instant appearance, and by its speed and power. It struck my twig like a professional football tackle. The impact produced an audible click, and I felt it through the twig I held in my hand. If my twig had been insect, it would died a terrible death that very instant. That tough-skinned arachnid reminds me a lot of the strength and determination of Death.
According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the resident population of the United States, projected to 03/05/07 at 11:16 EST was 301,306,433 persons at a death rate of one every 12 seconds; or 300 per hour. By the time Brian Williams completes his thirty-minute evening report, an average of 150 Americans— men, women, and children— cross over to the other side. Look around you. See the people? —your friends, your family, your co workers, the people in the malls and on the freeways? In a mere fifty years most of them will be dead; including you. That's a lot of graves.
Death often comes when people least expect it. As a rule, they don't usually get up in the morning planning it to be their last day on earth. The people who perished in the World Trade Center didn't go in to work expecting their lives to end before lunch that day. No, people's lives often end while they still have things to do, places to go, and people to see; when a car accident, train wreck, plane crash, crime, heart attack, or stroke puts an abrupt end to every plan they ever made.
On a November morning in 1998, Alan Pakula climbed into his Volvo station wagon and began the 100-mile drive from Manhattan to his Long Island house. The acclaimed movie director of Sophie's Choice and All The President's Men, had made that trip countless times with no incident. As the 70 year-old Pakula neared exit 49 on the Long Island Expressway just before noon, a vehicle ahead of him drove over a 7-foot piece of steel rod in the street, flipping it up into the air. Within seconds, the rod shot through Pakula's windshield, smashing into his forehead, killing him almost instantly.
Not long ago, on Dec 8, 2004, one of my all-time favorite metal guitar gods (after Randy Rhoads), Darrell "Dimebag" Abbott, that axe-shredding cowboy from hell, was murdered onstage by a deranged fan upset about Pantera's break-up. Darrell got up that day thinking only of the gig he would perform at the Alrosa Village in Columbus Ohio with his new group Damageplan; never dreaming it was to be his last day on earth. The Dime was only a measly 38 years old. He could have lived another forty.
I once heard a very sad story about a newlywed couple. They had purchased a brand new home to start their married life in; but on the way back from the honeymoon, both were killed when their car went off the road. They didn't get to live in their new home for even one single minute of their marriage— never had a baby, never joined the PTA, never saved for college, never went to ballet lessons, nor to soccer or little league, never went on family picnics, never took home movies and photos at Christmas, Easter, or birthdays, never went to the beach and built sand castles —no, their entire future, and all their dreams of family life, were destroyed in an instant.
●Ps 146:3-4 ...Don't put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. When their breathing stops, they return to the earth, and in a moment all their plans come to an end.
What's the so-called New Covenant?
For a good many years during the early part of my life, I wished it were possible to obey God naturally instead of it being such an effort. I asked myself: Why does it have to be so against nature to be holy? If only holiness were second nature, then God would be happy and nobody would have to worry about going to Hell.
Well…. the new covenant was the answer to my wish. The wording is just too good to be true. Here it is in a nutshell.
●Jer 31:31-34 …See, a time is coming— declares The Lord —when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers, when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, a covenant which they broke, though I espoused them— declares the Lord.
…But such is the covenant I will make with the House of Israel after these days— declares The Lord: I will put my Teachings into their inmost being and inscribe it upon their hearts. Then I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer will they need to teach one another and say to one another, "Heed the Lord"; for all of them, from the least of them to the greatest, shall heed Me— declares The Lord. For I will forgive their iniquities, and remember their sins no more.
●Ezk 36:24-28 …I will take you from among the nations and gather you from all the countries, and I will bring you back to your own land. I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean: I will cleanse you from all your uncleanness and from all your fetishes. And I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit into you: I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a soft heart; and I will put My spirit into you. Thus will I cause you to follow My laws and faithfully to observe My rules. Then you shall dwell in the land which I gave to your fathers, and you shall be My people and I will be your God.
Not only does the new covenant, as opposed to the old, permanently absolve every imaginable sin— the capital ones, the accidental ones, and the deliberate ones —but it even has provisions for replacing mortal human nature with a divine nature augmented by God's spirit to make it possible for His people to please him second nature instead of leaving it up to their own mortal human will power.
Now do you see why the Gospel is called "good" news? Yes, you d_mn right it's good news; the best news ever! Not only do I have a pass to Messiah's future, but I am going to share it with him not as a mortal man, but rather, as a divined man who will think, feel, and act just like a chip off The Old Block. You can't possibly have it any better than that.
Question: The wording of the new covenant seems to target Jews. Anything in it for Gentiles?
It is God's will that the new covenant be offered to everybody, not just to Jews.
●Isa 49:6 …And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
●Mark 16:15-16 …And then he told them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to everyone, everywhere.
●Rom 3:29 …Is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also
For more on the new covenant, Click Here
What's A Hypocrite?
Hypocrites are commonly thought of as people who practice a double standard: one for you and one for them. But the Greek word translated hypocrite in the New Testament is hupokrites (hoop-ok-ree-tace'); which means: an actor under an assumed character (stage-player)
Webster's definition of a hypocrite comes pretty close to matching the New Testament's definition.
1) a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion, 2) one who affects virtues, qualities, or attitudes he does not have; viz: a fake, a fraud, a lip server, a poser, a pretender, an imposter, a phony, a dissembler.
Webster's defines dissembling as: 1) to hide under a false appearance, 2) to put on the appearance of; viz: to simulate, and 3) to put on a false appearance; viz: to conceal facts, intentions, or feelings under some pretense
Hypocrisy is just the opposite of integrity which can be roughly defined as; being the same on the outside as you are on the inside.
In my opinion, the worst kind of hypocrite in Christianity are those who piously promote the love of God and the love of neighbor, while they themselves, down inside where no one can see, are an ugly human being sadly infected with sarcasm cynicism, malice, spite, jealousy, covetousness, vengeance, resentment, envy, rage, rivalry, suspicion, deceit, slander, bias, bigotry, prejudice, favoritism, narcissism, conceit, greed, lust, hate, elitism, ulterior motives, assertiveness, stubbornness, profanity, sneering, scorn, et al, et al.
●Prv 26:24-26 …People with hate in their hearts, may sound pleasant enough, but don't believe them. Though they pretend to be kind, their hearts are full of all kinds of evil. While their hatred may be concealed by trickery, it will finally come to light for all to see.
●Prv 10:18 …Whoever hides hatred has lying lips
I have been on internet message boards with professing Christians since 1998, and in all those years, it has been my unfortunate experience that the ugliest ones online are those who piously bleat the most about love for God and love for one's neighbor; while never making any effort whatsoever to exemplify either one. And oh how they love to throw The Beatitudes around, like name-dropping at a social event, while not even making a dent in any of them. And it's mostly professing Christians; not Atheists and/or Agnostics, who act that way. I just don't see the wisdom in the unlovely promoting love. It's twisted and obscene if you ask me. A salesman who doesn't believe in his own product enough to buy it, isn't worthy to represent it.
●Matt 15:8 …This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
●Matt 23:27-28 …Woe unto you, …hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
What's An Apostate?
The New Testament Greek word from which is derived the English word apostasy is apostasia (ap-os-tas-ee'-ah). It's a bit difficult to locate the Engish word apostasy in the Bible because most versions translate apostasia as falling away or forsaking. The actual meaning is: a defection.
Webster's defines defection as: conscious abandonment of allegiance and/or duty (as to a person, cause, or doctrine): viz: desertion.
In the world of religion, apostasy simply means dropping out of a particular religion; but not necessarily to join up with another one. A heretic and an apostate are two different kinds of people. A heretic isn't a defector; but rather, a heretic is simply schismatic: someone in your own congregation who stirs up discord, disharmony, and division; viz: an activist; while apostates don't stick around; no, they bail.
But is all apostasy bad? No, it isn't all bad because apostasy is often an essential component in the salvation process. And apostasy is proprietary too. When a Catholic bails out of Catholicism to become, say, a Baptist, their decision is apostasy to the Catholic Church, while it's conversion to the Baptist Church.
What's A Heretic?
The New Testament Greek word for heretic is hairetikos (hahee-ret-ee-kos'); which means: a schismatic. Webster's defines a schismatic as: one who causes division, discord, and disharmony.
Hairetikos is used but one single time in the entire New Testament.
●Titus 3:10-11 …Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.
And implied elsewhere; e.g.
●Rom 16:17-18 …And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people's faith by teaching things that are contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them. Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people.
Within the context of Titus and Romans, a heretic is a member of your own denomination, and specifically, your own local congregation; not somebody out and about who merely disagrees with your religion's belief system. So it would be improper for a Catholic to call, say, a Baptist, a heretic because Baptists, as a rule, don't attend Catholic churches. They attend their own churches where Baptist beliefs are accepted and Catholics, as a rule, attend their own churches where Catholic beliefs are accepted.
As an example, I know of Catholics who don't believe in The Trinity; and believe in a woman's right to make her own decision regarding abortion and birth control. Those Catholics are genuine Bible heretics. The wise thing for them to do is to defect; make a clean break with the Catholic Church; then at least they'd no longer be heretics: they'd just be outsiders; which is quite a bit better than being a source of division, discord, and disharmony within their own ranks.
Heretics seriously undermine unity. So, what's to be done with them? Burned at the stake? Tortured into submission? I don't think that's necessary. No, instead; I think it would be to the advantage of all concerned if schismatics were politely, but firmly, asked to please leave; and if they refuse, then call a church meeting and have them officially excommunicated and barred from the property even if it means resorting to the law and getting a restraining order against them.
I feel it's important to emphasize that merely disagreeing with a church's leadership, and/or questioning its doctrines, doesn't automatically make somebody a heretic. It's only when they go on an in-house crusade to win church members over to their way of thinking; resulting in discord, disharmony, and division. I know a Presbyterian personally, a neighbor down the street, whose boys grew up with my son, who created a web site just for the purpose of refuting his own church's doctrines. That man is a true heretic not because he disagreed with his church's doctrines, but because instead of complying with Heb 13:17, he chose to remain a member of that church while actively recruiting others to assist in his cause to undermine the leadership.
Heresy is proprietary. What Catholics might call heresy, is truth to a Baptist; and what Baptists might call heresy is truth to Church of Christ. Which serves to validate Paul's guidelines that Christians should strive towards unity within their own congregations; rather than Christendom at large. Attempting to unify Christendom is futile because it has to yet to reach a unanimous agreement on what constitutes the teachings of Christ. I don't know why there is abroad today the thinking that all Christians are members of the so-called "universal" church because nothing could be any further from the truth. Christendom is denominational, and any attempt to unify it would meet with the same defeat as an attempt to unify the animal kingdom to create a planet of the apes.
What is Hope?
●Eph 1:16-18 …I Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling
There's basically two kinds of hope: there's the hope-so kind of hope, and there's the know-so kind of hope. The most common Greek word translated "hope" in the New Testament is elpis (el-pece'); which means: to anticipate (usually with pleasure); and expectation (abstractly or concretely) or confidence.
Anticipation can be defined as: fully expecting, and pleasurably looking forward to. You see, when you anticipate something, it won't catch you by surprise because you already know ahead of time that it's on the way; viz: elpis is a know-so kind of hope, used in virtually every instance regarding the hope of salvation. In other words, Christians shouldn't be wishing for salvation, no, it should already be in the bag.
The "hope" of salvation isn't wishful thinking, nor an anxiety-ridden wait for a verdict like when job seekers stand by their phones praying for a call from a prospective employer. NO, NO, NO, not even similar. Salvation's hope is a confident, pleasurable expectation of things to come— like how little kids look forward to their birthdays, and DoD welders look forward to Federal retirement; and when a rich man's heir looks forward to getting his inheritance some day so he can run out and buy a Ducati motorcycle and a Patek Philippe wrist watch. They're not wishing for those things to come, no, they are anticipating them; viz: they're looking forward to those events because they know it's only a matter of time till they come to pass.
Christians who lack the know-so hope of salvation are just as much in the dark as an American Idol contestant anxiously waiting for the votes. Christians who lack know-so hope have got a really serious problem because the Bible says that elpis hope is a "calling".
●Eph 4:4-5 …There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called
Objection: So, let me get this straight: you are absolutely sure that in the future you could do nothing, absolutely nothing that would cause you to turn your back on God and all His promises?
I am absolutely sure that even if I did turn my back on God and all His promises that I would still retain my know-so hope of salvation. You know why you asked me that question? Because you do not have the kind of hope about which I wrote; so you cannot possibly understand its power to assure. Paul prayed that his friends could experience that kind of assurance. The reason he prayed for them is not because they were in danger of the wrath of God, but rather, because he wanted them to realize just how safe they really were.
●Eph 1:16-18 …I cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling
My savior will never leave me nor forsake me no matter how much I turn my back on God. It's too late for that now. I've already been sealed.
●Eph 1:13-14 ...In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation— having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory.
●Eph 4:30 ...And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Rose Of Sharon