Friday, March 18, 2011

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Eternal Life: Heaven Or Hell

Jesus said, “I am The Way, The Truth, and The Life; no man comes to the Father but by me.”(John14: 6) Lately, I have been contemplating and trying to understand why some who profess to be Christians today are willing to even give the appearance of wavering and not holding fast to the cornerstone of the profession of their faith. I have even heard some of them either try to ignore or diminish the importance of Jesus’ own proclamation that our salvation is completely dependent upon our faith in Him alone and the price He paid for us on the cross.

I know that no one can force belief in Jesus down someone’s throat, and each individual must make his/her own choice to accept or reject the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some are willing to concede that He was a “good man” or even a “prophet”, but reject Him as the Son of God, and therefore the only one capable of redeeming mankind. Some will say that He is only one of many ways to God. Yet that in itself refutes the truth of what He said. Man can lie, but God can’t. Either Jesus was telling the truth, or He is a liar and therefore nothing He says is believable. He is either all truth, as He said, or there is no truth in Him. To diminish the truth that He alone is Lord and Savior is to completely destroy any credibility of anything and everything that He said or did.

What value does the life and blood of our Savior have? For our sakes, He left His Father and all the glories of heaven to become the only one that could take away our sins, IF we would only Believe in Him. God the Father GAVE His only Son that whosoever would Believe should not perish, but have everlasting life. Yet there are those that would have us believe that it doesn’t matter whether you believe in the Jesus as Lord or not, but that you can be saved by any other path to God that you choose. O how deceitful and rebellious is the heart of man. God gives us a gift, salvation through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. Then we, in the wisdom of our own opinion, have the gall to tell Him that His gift, or plan, is not correct we will make or create our own plan or path to Him? A man’s ways are truly “right in his own eyes.”
The following is my own inept effort at attempting to give an example of the fallacy of man rejecting God’s plan for his own man-made plan. I want to give my daughter a present of a trip to come spend time with me. After checking out the safety of several vessels, I select the only one that proved to be completely safe and capable in every way. I even send her the ticket free, and paid in full. All she has to do is receive it and enter into the selected safe vessel that is assured to bring her here. Yet, she decides that she is not going to accept the gift, but chooses to make her own way here because she thinks there is a cheaper and better way here even though that vessel has not been proven to be safe and secure. Sure enough, the vessel fails and the path she chose results in death and our separation forever.

Out of His love and infinite wisdom, God has given us His best. We, in our finite wisdom, as much as tell Him, “Forget your will God, I’ll choose to do my own thing.” Because He is a gentleman, and never forces His will on us, He allows us to make up our own minds. He has warned us that His plan is assured to secure our safe and guaranteed arrival and that any other plan or path only leads to death and destruction. We, in our doubt and unbelief, go ahead and choose our own way instead of The Way that He gave us freely. Therefore, is it His fault or our own that has condemned us to Hell where we will forever suffer separation from Him, Heaven, and all of its glories?
I looked up the biblical meaning of the word “blasphemer” and found that it means “one who scoffs at the teachings of Jesus.” I know, in today’s world, it is not deemed popular to be bold in professing faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, according to the secular world, Christians are intolerant bigots. Even some Christians have swallowed the lie that they must keep silent about their faith, or confine it so you don’t run the risk of “offending” others. We would have no faith in Christ today if there had not been those who were willing to even die for the privilege of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, dead, buried, and risen.

I truly believe that we are living in the last days. However, whether we have one day, one year, or one thousand years, Christians are commissioned to take the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ into all the world, which includes your family. In today’s world, there often seems to be little or no urgency, even among those who profess to be Christians, to teach the Word to their own children, much less to the world. Instead, they often seem more concerned about making sure that their children are so “open minded” that teaching God’s Word is severely limited, or completely ignored, for doing so would be deemed indoctrination. Whatever happened to the Christian family value that parents are to “bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,” Eph. 6: 4, or “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov: 22, 6),
or “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4: 4)?

If parents today continue to neglect their responsibility to teach their children the Word of the Lord, they will raise a generation that is void of the truth, which is the knowledge of the one true living God. A child brought up in this way is then easily led down the path of deception and destruction. He/she is left unprotected and vulnerable to a greater possibility of believing any lie rather than the truth. They will become a generation that “leans to their own understanding.” That is, they will trust in their own opinions rather than having trust in the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord. Is there any wonder then as to why we have so many families today in which there is no peace? Today, many children are not taught to “honor your father and mother,” or “Thou shall have no other gods before Me.” How can children, who are not taught to obey their mothers and fathers (whom they can see), ever learn to obey God (whom they can’t see)? Instead of having a healthy fear (awe, reverence) of the Lord, and for the authority of their parents (given by God), the children develop little or no respect for authority, and become so selfish and self centered that the idea of serving God, much less their parents, is alien and repugnant to them. Therefore, instead of peace there is only rebelliousness and chaos in the family.

As a retired teacher, I can recall many parents who made statements such as the following: “I know what you have to put up with as his/her teacher. I am struggling with the same attitudes and behaviors at home. I’ve tried everything I know, but nothing seems to work.” Through parent teacher conferences, I have witnessed parents who are actually afraid of their own children. Many were more interested in ‘rescuing’ the child from really suffering the consequences of their own behavior, thereby blocking any learning that could influence the development of better behavior. Other parental situations were characterized by one parent really making an effort to discipline the child, while the other parent is continually undermining those efforts. Knowing that “nothing I do seems to work” should set off an alarm that perhaps there is a need for counseling, or at the least, cessation of undermining the efforts of the one parent and give it a chance to see if more positive results might be obtained through that parent’s tactics.

There is no such thing as a perfect parent, or one perfect method of raising a child. However, if one will search the Word of God, many good guidelines are given for parental guidance if we are willing to learn and apply them. But of course, that does take a bit of study, work, and commitment on the part of the parents to want to change and be consistent in those efforts. I don’t speak as one who did everything correctly as a parent, but rather as one who definitely committed mistakes but hopefully learned some positive things along the way. Even as a teacher, I was able to learn more positive methods of class management by talking with and observing the methods of other teachers. This gave me an opportunity to learn, change, and often improve; thus, creating an atmosphere conducive for a greater degree of harmony and learning within my classroom. A classroom and family have many similarities. God’s principles, when applied in our lives, have miraculous results.

At one time, those who professed to be Christians thought it important to hold fast their profession of faith with the boldness of the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Yet today, it seems more acceptable to compromise the Word of God, quench the power of the Holy Spirit, and reduce our faith to a lukewarm and ineffectual state of being. Being “rooted and grounded” in the Word is deemed as bigoted, close minded, and even stupid. Consciously or unconsciously, our sins of omission become even greater than our sins of commission. We are commanded to keep His statutes ever before our eyes and to hide His Word (in our hearts) that it may “dwell in us richly.” Yet how many of us can honestly say that we truly “study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth?” (II Tim. 2:15) Oh yes, many of us are always willing to study the sources of academia calling it truth, while all too often relegating the Word of God to the status of being an inaccurate work of mere man at best, or a bunch of myths, at its worse. Again this strikes in direct opposition of what Jesus said about the Word of God. However, man’s attempt to augment his own opinions to a superior level than that of God’s Word only confirms the truth in the Scriptures: “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” (Romans 1:22) “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (II Tim. 3: 7)

Diminishing the importance of the Word of God in our lives is to block God’s opportunity, through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, to guide and lead us to the saving knowledge of the Lord. “And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12: 2) “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it (believers) with the washing of water by the word.”
(Eph. 5: 25, 26)

Many who profess to be Christians not only don’t study the Word, but neither do they commune with other believers in order to hear the instruction of the Lord, or praise and worship Him. They often state, “You don’t have to go to church to believe in the Lord.” I don’t disagree with the statement on its face value. I also agree that not everyone who goes to church, or says he is a Christian, is a real born again believer. Often, religiosity and the practice of tradition and ceremony are equated as being the same as knowing Jesus as one’s personal Lord and Savior. II Timothy 3: 1-5 gives us an excellent warning for each of us to guard against falling into such a pit in our own lives. “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

Yes, we are warned against becoming a part of any church, group, or becoming entangled with those who teach other than the gospel of Jesus Christ.
At the same time, we are not to forsake the gathering of ourselves with like minded believers that we may become mature Christians. “And He gave some, apostles; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, making increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Eph. 4: 11 – 16)

We are definitely living in “the last days.” Churches today are full of those who profess to be Christians, yet deny that God’s plan for salvation is only through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4: 12) “The stone (Jesus Christ) which the builders refused is become the head stone of the coronet.” (Psalm 118: 22) “Therefore thus saith the Lord God,
I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” (Isaiah 28: 16) The corner stone is Jesus the Messiah. If our lives are based on our own dreams and successes, our foundation is no better than sinking sand. Jesus alone is the sure foundation. Without faith in Him, we have condemned ourselves to an eternity in Hell.

The true believer in Christ is one that not only hears His Word, but also believes in Him and obeys Him. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” No believer is perfect, but every true believer is being perfected. As we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. That good work that He has begun in us He will continue to do until we see Him face to face. Don’t look to mankind for perfection, for perfection is found only in Jesus. He alone is our example. We can not earn our way to Heaven. Our passport to our eternal home in Heaven is our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Our names are written in the Lambs book of life when we have believed, received, repented and obeyed; when we are not just hearers of the Word, but also doers. We are not saved by good works, but rather good works will result from our salvation. Salvation is a gift of God. We all fall short of the mark. We are to endure to the end, forever striving to become more like our Savior who is the “author and finisher of our faith.” It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can become less of our old selves and be transformed daily into the image of Jesus Christ.

If we try to stand on the idea that we are good in that we trust in our own ability to try to be the best person that we can be, we have deceived ourselves. Our own righteousness “is as filthy rags” in the sight of the Lord. It is only through the shed blood of Jesus, which cleanses us from sin, and gives us access into the presence of our just, forgiving, and loving heavenly Father. It is that sacrifice of His blood that justifies us and sanctifies us. We can never boast in our own goodness, but only in the righteousness of Jesus. We do not go to heaven because of any goodness of our own, but only because of mercy and grace bestowed upon us from our heavenly Father through faith in His Son.

The Lord has given us a vision of how much He grieved over the rebelliousness of his people. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and yet ye would not.” (Matt. 23: 37) Jesus still calls out today for us to come seek the protection that He alone can give. As a mother, my heart felt and greatest desire is that all of my family will run to the secure safety of Jesus. O what joy divine to spend eternity in heaven with the Lord and the rest of my family! What an absolute fantastic and glorious reason for celebration!

I can only imagine the heartache felt by God when one of us rejects His Son Jesus, who came to give His life as a ransom for you and me. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, but that all should come to repentance.” (II Peter 3: 9) Today Is The Day Of Salvation. Let His Word dwell in you richly. Not that you would be chained by the letter of the law, for that is legalism. But you would be guided and constrained by the spirit of the law for “Now the Lord is that Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.” (II Cor. 17) It is the Holy Spirit that draws us to repentance and guides to the truth and saving knowledge of the Lord through His Word. Jesus is the Word made flesh. The Bible is the written Word given to us that we might know the will of God in our lives. Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Matt.5: 17, 18) So what is the purpose of His Word? Does it bind us in tyranny knowing that we can never follow every part of the law? No, only Jesus did that. Instead, it is given that, with the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we might be set free from enslavement to sin that would destroy us. Does it mean that we are free from the consequences of willfully practicing sin? Absolutely not! Instead, if we yield to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, He will make known to us the truth, and the truth will set us free. Without the law how else would we know that which is pleasing or unpleasing to the Lord? If we truly love the Lord, do we not want to please him by every thought, word and deed? And if we fail, how much more should we desire to say how very sorry we are, repent, and ask His forgiveness? Just think of the one you love the most here on earth. Do you not want to do all that you can to please and show your love for that person? How much more then should we seek to love and please our heavenly Father? There is no greater joy than which is found in fellowshipping with the Lord. Here on earth I have experienced only brief moments of knowing such great pleasure. No earthly words can express the wonder of feeling like you love the Lord so much that you feel like you are certainly going to burst. That kind of love can only come because He has loved us first. I thank the Lord for the wonderful love that He has given my husband and me for each other. I know that that too is just a foretaste of the greater joy and love that awaits each of us in heaven when we are together face to face with Jesus, the bridegroom of the church.

I know that I already have my final and real home in Heaven, not because I am “good,” but because Jesus ransomed me and purchased me with His saving blood. Now my heavenly Father sees me cleansed and washed white as snow. I daily seek His forgiveness for the times that I continue to fall flat on my face. Thank the Lord, He never gives up on me or forsakes me. With the love of Jesus within me, I urge you to give yourself to Him that you may receive His joy and peace in the here and now, and that you too may have the assurance of spending the rest of eternity with Him and the entire family of God.

Loved ones, please make sure of your salvation so that we can spend eternity together in Heaven. I don’t ask that you take my word or believe me. I do ask that you seek the Lord “while He may be found.” Trust and believe in Him. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Look into your heart, is there room for Him there? What evidence is seen in your life that you are truly His, and He is truly Yours? Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you and guide you to receive Him into your heart as Lord and Savior. If you do not yet know Him, why do you wait so long to ask for and receive the promise of God? Heaven or Hell, where do you choose to spend eternity?

Believers, ring the sound of alarm. If we who know Him, do not reach out to bring others to Him, then who will? We must not rest while there is still time to ring the alarm to “draw all men unto Him.” Loved Ones, listen and heed the cry of the Lord. He stands at the door of your heart. Won’t you let Him come in?

Just how important is it to love the Lord and His Word?

Deut. 6: 4-9 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord thy God is one Lord; and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine hear: and thou shall teach them diligently to thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”

Deut 6: 17-18 “Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and his testimonies, and his statutes, which he hath commanded thee. And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the Lord: that it may be well with thee,”

Does Jesus promise the believer a place in heaven?

John 14: 1 - 3 Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

None of us knows the hour or day of His coming. But He has told us the signs to look for. He stands very close as many of those “signs” have already occurred. Don’t wait till it’s too late. Acknowledgement alone, of who Jesus is,
is not sufficient. Jesus said, “Verily, Verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3: 3) Search your heart. Do you know Him as Lord and Savior? Do you listen to and obey Him? Do not let doubt or unbelief take root in your heart. Again, heed His call while He may be found.

Heavenly Father, I pray that each of us will know and receive Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, and choose to serve Him the rest of our lives. Give us spiritual eyes to see, spiritual ears to hear, and a heart of flesh (not stone) to receive your Son, Jesus Christ. May each of us know the peace that comes from knowing that we are “carved in the palm of your hand,” and nothing can separate us from the love of the one true living God. Amen

Ginger Rahn


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