3/7/18

Judgment Day by Trevor Bowen

 http://insearchoftruth.org/articles/judgement.html

 Judgment Day

Introduction

Judgment Day marks the end of time.  What will occur on that day?  Do we know when it will transpire?  Will there be any warning?  Many people may have opinions and speculations, but only the Bible is the authority that can answer these questions for us.  Therefore, let us examine a few passages to see what the Bible has to say.

All Saints from All Time will be Carried to Heaven

During the New Testament times, the Christians at Thessalonica became worried that the Christians who died would miss out on Jesus' return.  They were afraid those who died ceased to exists.  Let's examine the apostle Paul's explanation about the dead and Judgment Day:
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
"For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.  And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
"Therefore, comfort one another with these words" I Thessalonians 4:13-18
We learn the following points from this passage:
  1. Judgment day will be signaled by a shout and trumpet
  2. Christ will descend
  3. The dead will arise first
  4. Then, those alive will join them and Christ in the air
This passage describes a little about Judgment Day from our perspective on earth.  Later, we will look at another passage that tells a little about what Judgment Day will look like from heaven's perspective.

The Annihilation of the Earth

"But what about the earth?  "Will anything be left of, or on the earth?"  The apostle Peter, in his letter, warns of the final destruction of the earth on the last day:
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
"Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?" II Peter 3:10-13
From this passage, we learn that the earth and the heavens will totally be destroyed.  The heavens will alsso be destroyed, which encompass the entire universe, all that is above our atmosphere.  Some wonder, if God will preserve the earth, restore it for his faithful, and turn it into a paradise.  However, this passage explains that it will be a total destruction.  Even the "elements" of both the heavens and earth, the things that comprise this world, will be destroyed.  Nothing will be left of the universe and reality that we now live in.

A New Body

"So what happens to our bodies and all of the dead people's bodies?"   The Bible teaches that all will receive new bodies - all people both good and evil.  In New Testament times, the Christians in the city of Corinth were faced with a false doctrine that denied that there would be resurrection.  One supporting argument that was proposed was that our bodies will decay in the grave.  So, how could there be a resurrection, since our bodies will be destroyed?  The apostle Paul responded to this false doctrine by explaining that we will receive new bodies:
"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.  Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed - in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." I Corinthians 15:50-53
In addition to confirming what we have learned, we also discover that we will all be given new bodies when the trumpet is sounded.  So, before we even leave this earth, the resurrected dead and all those still alive will be given a new, immortal body.  It is in this body that we will stand before God and live out the remainder of eternity.

God's Throne and the Final Judgment

"So what happens once we leave this earth and it is destroyed?  "Where do we go?"  It is difficult to understand the answer because it involves a plane that transcends all that we know and understand.  We already know that we have immortal bodies and this plane of existence is destoyed, but even that is not explained further.  However, in the book of Revelation, a day of judgment is described.  This day of judgment is symbolic of what will transpire that day:
"Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away.  And there was found no place for them.  And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened.  And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life.  And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.
"The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them.  And they were judged, each one according to his works.  Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire.  This is the second death.  And anyone not found written in the Book of LIfe was cast into the lake of fire." Revelation 20:11-15
From this symbolic representation, we learn how Judgment Day will appear from heaven's viewpoint.  Once we are assembled before God's throne, then we will each be judged and sent to either heaven or hell.
A beautiful vision of heaven is painted through a symbol found following the above passage in Revelation 21:1-22:5.  Please, read it to learn more about how wonderful heaven will be, but please keep in mind that this is symbol.  The reality of heaven will be more beautiful than our mortal minds can now comprehend, but hell will equally be even more terrible than the symbol of a lake that burns with fire and is not quenched.
While on earth, Jesus alos told many parables about Judgment day, teaching about the final judgement and separation between the good and evil (Matthew 13:24-30; 25:31-46).

"When ?"

Besides wondering if we will be ready for Judgement Day, the second most important questions that we should, or could ask is, "When will Judgment Day come?  "Will there be a sign?"  Many people have speculated and even affirmed specific days as the last day.  However, the failure of these prophecies alone teach us at the very least to be wary and skeptic of such predictions.  But, does the Bible say anything about the end of the world?  In one of the passages that we looked at earlier, the apostle Peter addressed when the last day would occur:
"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night ..." II Peter 3:10
When does a thief rob your house?  The answer - you don't know!  It happens suddenly and unpredictably.  Jesus was also asked this question by his apostles (Matthew 24:3).  Please listen to the similar answer:
"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.
"But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.  For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be" ...
"Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming, But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.
"Therefore, you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." Matthew 24:36-44
Jesus clearly speaks about the last day being similar to a thief breaking into our house.  The analogy is again the same - we do not know when a thief will break into our house.  In view of such passages, it becomes difficult, even impossible to believe that someone can predict the occurrence of Judgment Day.  We do not know when it will occur, so we must be ready at all times.

Conclusion

Judgment Day will be both a glorious and fearful day.  It will be the end of all time and a day of reckoning for all people before their Creator.  Jesus said that no man knows what day it will occur, so let us always be wary of those who prophesy that the end of the world is near, but we must always live like it is tomorrow.
Trevor Bowen
Thu, 24 May 2001 16:50:18 CDT

"THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS" The Art Of Making Peace (4:1-3) by Mark Copeland

                    "THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS"

                     The Art Of Making Peace (4:1-3)

INTRODUCTION

1. Even in "good" churches you often find brethren who have differences
   with each other; such was the case with the church at Philippi

2. As Paul continues with various exhortations to the Christian life, at
   this point in his epistle he addresses his comments concerning a rift
   that apparently existed among two members at Philippi (4:1-3)

3. How Paul approaches the sensitive task of trying to make peace between
   Euodia and Syntyche provides several lessons in the use of tact
   a. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are to be known as "peacemakers"
      (Mt 5:9)
   b. From Paul, then, let us learn what we can about "The Art Of Making
      Peace"

[The first lesson, gleaned from verse one, is...]

I. THE PEACEMAKER MUST LOVE THOSE ON BOTH SIDES (1)

   A. PAUL STARTS OUT BY EXPRESSING HIS LOVE...
      1. Note the terms used by Paul...
         a. "my brothers"
         b. "beloved and longed for"
         c. "my joy and crown"
         d. "beloved"
      2. Truly Paul loved the people at Philippi!

   B. PEACEMAKERS MUST DO THE SAME...
      1. They must have sincere love for those on both sides of an issue
      2. They must be able and willing to express their love, as did Paul
      3. Otherwise, they cannot be useful arbitrators in making peace
         a. Loving one side, and not the other, makes impartial judgments
            impossible
         b. The peacemaker's advice and counsel will be open to suspicion

[With mutual love for those on both sides, the peacemaker is in a
position to render a fair evaluation of the problem and the solution.

Next, we see that...]

II. THE PEACEMAKER SHOULD TREAT BOTH SIDES TENDERLY AND EQUALLY (2)

   A. IN THE CASE OF PAUL...
      1. Note the use of the verb "implore" (KJV, "beseech") - parakaleo
         {par-ak-al-eh'-o}
         a. To call to one's side, call for, summon
         b. To address, speak to, (call to, call upon), which may be done
            in the way of exhortation, entreaty, comfort, instruction,
            etc.
         -- Rather than command, Paul chooses to plead with them
      2. Note the repeated and equal use of the verb "implore"
         a. "I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche"
         b. Rather than take sides, Paul treats them both tenderly and
            equally

   B. THERE IS A NEED FOR SUCH PEACEMAKERS TODAY...
      1. Individuals who will use tenderness and fairness in treating
         those in a dispute
      2. Again, remaining impartial, so the counsel will not tainted with
         any accusation of bias

[The next insight we can glean from Paul in "The Art Of Making Peace" 
is...]

III. THE PEACEMAKER MUST SEEK FOR ONENESS OF MIND (2)

   A. NOTE PAUL'S OBJECTIVE...
      1. That Euodia and Syntyche "be of the same mind in the Lord"
      2. A concern of Paul already expressed in this epistle, that there
         be  - Php 1:27; 2:2
      3. But now applied especially to these two ladies

   B. IN MAKING PEACE, THERE MUST BE ONENESS OF MIND...
      1. In many "peace agreements", the participants have not truly
         reached a oneness of mind, only a compromise
      2. Such "agreements" are often only temporary, destroyed when the
         remaining differences eventually resurface
      3. For Christians, seeking to "be of the same mind in the Lord"
         becomes easy if we all strive to have "the mind of Christ" 
         - Php 2:2-5

[Not content with only a "cessation of hostilities", the peacemaker 
seeks to go much further, dealing with the divisiveness of mind that is 
the true cause of the problem.

Note also, that...]

IV. THE PEACEMAKER MUST USE ASSISTANCE WHEN AVAILABLE (3)

   A. PAUL WAS NOT TOO PROUD TO CALL FOR HELP...
      1. He sought out the assistance of "Syzygus"
         a. Literally, "yoke-fellow, true companion"
         b. Possibly his true name, which if so, he was being called upon
            by Paul to live up to his name!
      2. Paul wanted this individual to help these ladies out

   B. PEACEMAKERS WILL GLADLY USE THE HELP OTHERS CAN GIVE...
      1. Humble, they do not feel like they have to do it all
      2. Aware of others who may be in a position to provide counsel or
         other means of help, they will glad utilize them
      3. Their goal is to make peace, not a reputation for themselves!

[Finally, we can glean from Paul that...]

V. THE PEACEMAKER MUST SEE THE GOOD AND GIVE CREDIT WHEN DUE (3)

   A. PAUL DID NOT LOSE SIGHT OF WHOSE THESE WOMEN WERE...
      1. They had labored with Paul in the gospel
      2. They had labored with Clement
      3. They had labored with Paul's other fellow-workers as well (who
         though unmentioned by name, had their names in the "Book of
         Life" - cf. Re 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12,15; 21:27; 22:19)

   B. SO PEACEMAKERS MUST REMEMBER THE GOOD IN THOSE WITH WHOM THEY
      DEAL...
      1. It is so easy to forget that those having problems likely have
         much good to their credit
      2. Recognizing this and giving credit where it is due increases the
         likelihood that one's advice will be heeded

CONCLUSION

1. In a world that is as divided as ours, there is a grave need for those
   who can serve as faithful and effective "peacemakers"

2. Hopefully, by considering and applying "The Art Of Making Peace" as
   exemplified by the apostle Paul in this passage, we may be useful to
   the Lord when called upon to bring divided people together!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

Are Children Born With Sin? by Moisés Pinedo


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=2697

Are Children Born With Sin?

by  Moisés Pinedo

Have you ever seen the face of a newborn child, touched the soft skin of his rose-colored cheeks, and sensed his innocence when looking into his beautiful eyes? In stark contrast, Catholic teaching alleges that “small infants are sinful!” The Catechism of the Catholic Church declares:
Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called (1994, 1250, emp. added).
The Bible teaches that children do not bear the sin of their parents (Exodus 32:32-33; Deuteronomy 24:16; 2 Kings 14:6; 2 Chronicles 25:4; Jeremiah 31:30; Ezekiel 18:20). However, Catholics are quick to point out that David declared: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,and in sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). To understand this passage, we must keep in mind that the subject of Psalm 51 is David’s sin, not original sin. Consider the nouns and possessives David used to indicate that the sin which he was talking about was the sin he committed: “Blot out my transgression” (vs. 1); “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” (vs. 2); “I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me” (vs. 3); “Against You, You only, have I sinned” (vs. 4); etc. There is not even the slightest allusion to some kind of original sin in the psalmist’s supplication. In fact, it was from his own sin and transgression that the psalmist desired to be freed.
But, why did he refer to the moment in which he was formed in the womb of his mother? The psalmist could have been using hyperbole (cf. Psalm 58:3; Colley, 2004), or emphasizing the condition in which his mother conceived him. In the latter case, although he was born without sin, he was born into a world that was covered, plagued, and influenced by sin.
Consider also that the psalmist made these pleas for forgiveness as an adult. He used present-tense verbs to plead for forgiveness: “Have mercy upon me...blot out my transgressions” (vs. 1); “Wash me thoroughly...cleanse me from my sin (vs. 2); “I acknowledge my transgressions” (vs. 3); “Purge me with hyssop...wash me” (vs. 7); “Make me hear joy and gladness” (vs. 8); “Hide Your face from my sins...blot out all my iniquities” (vs. 9); “Create in me a clean heart...renew a steadfast spirit within me” (vs. 10).
David’s pleas for forgiveness were due to a sin (or sins) that he committed long after his birth. The psalmist himself made this fact clear in a parallel passage, where he prayed: “Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions” (Psalm 25:7, emp. added). If Psalm 51 is a plea to be freed from original sin, how do Catholics explain that God anointed, blessed, and used David while he bore the sin of the first man?
Additionally, the psalmist declared that he was “shapen” and “conceived” in iniquity (51:5, KJV). This is not a reference to birth (as Catholicism claims), but to conception. To be consistent with the Catholic idea that Psalm 51 supports the dogma of original sin, we must conclude that original sin is transmitted at the moment of conception. If that is the case, the Catholic Church will have to rework its theology concerning baptism to include a way to “baptize” children before birth to save them from “the power of darkness” (Cathecism..., 1994, 1250).
To arrive at a correct interpretation of Psalm 51, we also must consider other biblical passages where similar expressions are used. For example, Isaiah declared: “The Lord has called me from the womb; from the matrix of my mother He has made mention of my name” (49:1). In Jeremiah 1:5, God told His prophet: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you.” If by the expression, “I was brought forth in iniquity” (Psalm 51:5), David alluded to the original sin he bore, how do Catholics explain Isaiah and Jeremiah’s declarations of sanctity from the womb? Were these two prophets born without the contamination of original sin? According to Catholicism, only Jesus and Mary were born in a completely holy condition. These passages cannot be reconciled with the Catholic dogma of original sin (see Colley, 2004).
But, what about Romans 5:12, where the apostle Paul wrote that “through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned”? Does this verse teach that we bear Adam’s sin? No. As we observed in another article (cf. Pinedo, 2009), this verse teaches that death—the consequence of sin—spread to all men, not because Adam sinned, but “because all sinned” (5:12; cf. Romans 3:23). Of course, this “all” cannot refer only to Adam. Nothing in the Bible teaches, indicates, or implies that children are born with sin.
Paul indicated that where there is no law, there is no sin (Romans 3:20; cf. John 15:22). And the apostle John declared that “sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). If infants cannot know the Law of God or understand it, they cannot commit lawlessness.
Jesus Himself said: “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14, emp. added). Paul declared that none who are unclean can enter into the kingdom of heaven (Ephesians 5:5). Jesus added: “[U]nless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3, emp. added). If children come to the world with a “fallen human nature and tainted by original sin” (to use the words of the Catechism), why would men have to become as little children, who are also “contaminated” with sin? The Bible is clear: sin is not inherited. No baby has ever been born bearing the guilt of Adam’s sin. No one bears the responsibility for Adam’s sin but Adam himself.

REFERENCES

Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994), (Mahwah, NY: Paulist Press).
Colley, Caleb (2004), “Did David Authorize Infant Baptism?,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2626.
Pinedo, Moisés (2009), “Was Mary Sinless?,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/240062.

America’s Most Pressing Concern by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=3577

America’s Most Pressing Concern

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Many concerns occupy the minds of those who are disturbed by what is happening to the United States: bloated deficits, oppressive taxation, alleged global warming, rampant crime, and the influx of intruders who do not share the values and worldview of Americans. What are the central issues and topics that the average American pinpoints as of greatest concern? What issues stir widespread social and political fervor? For example, in the recent election, what concerns were most important to Americans as they cast their votes? By far, the top issue among all party groups was the economy. Healthcare was #2, followed by the size and power of federal government (“Economy Top Issue...,” 2010). But make no mistake: “The economy in general and the specific economic problem of unemployment or lack of jobs far outpace all other issues when Americans are asked to name the most important problem facing the country” (“Economy, Jobs...,” 2010, emp. added).

Beyond the economy, contemplate for a moment a few of the other issues that occupy the concern of many Americans:


War in Iraq/Afghanistan
Illegal immigration
Federal deficit
Education
Environmental issues
Energy availability
Terrorism
Foreign affairs
Social security and Medicare

Many other issues might be listed, but these are sufficient to make the point: Most Americans are more concerned about physical and financial matters than spiritual matters. When one contemplates the multitude of pressing concerns, it is easy to feel “scattered” and overwhelmed as to (1) what the real problem is and (2) the antidote.

While these matters certainly merit the attention and due concern of citizens, the fact of the matter is that the Founders of our Republic pinpointed a much more critical, logically prior issue. Consider the forthright remarks of three:

In a letter written to fellow Founder and signer of the federal Constitution, James McHenry, on November 4, 1800, Declaration signer Charles Carroll of Carrollton declared:

[W]hat motive can be stronger than the belief, founded on revelation, that a virtuous life will be rewarded by a happy immortality? Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure...are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments (as quoted in Steiner, 1907, p. 475, emp. added).
Consider carefully the admonitions of Founder Noah Webster regarding the indispensable nature of Christianity to the existence of our Republic:

[O]ur citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican principles is the Bible, particularly the New Testament or the Christian religion.... [T]he religion which has introduced civil liberty, is the religion of Christ and his apostles, which enjoins humility, piety, and benevolence; which acknowledged in every person a brother, or a sister, and a citizen with equal rights. This is genuine Christianity, and to this we owe our free constitutions of government.... [T]he Christian religion ought to be received, and maintained with firm and cordial support. It is the real source of all genuine republican principles.... The religion of Christ and his apostles, in its primitive simplicity and purity, unencumbered with the trappings of power and the pomp of ceremonies, is the surest basis of a republican government.... [T]hose who destroy the influence and authority of the Christian religion, sap the foundations of public order, of liberty, and of republican government.... (1832, pp. v,247,310-311, emp. added). The United States commenced their existence under circumstances wholly novel and unexampled in the history of nations. They commenced with civilization, with learning, with science, with constitutions of free government, and with that best gift of God to man, the Christian religion (as quoted in Scudder, 1881, p. 242, emp. added).


In his 1780 inaugural address as the governor of his home state of Massachusetts, Declaration signer John Hancock reminded his fellow citizens of the importance of Christianity to the perpetuation of the nation:


Sensible of the importance of Christian piety and virtue to the order and happiness of a state, I cannot but earnestly commend to you every measure for their support and encouragement.... A due observation of the Lord’s Day is not only important to internal religion, but greatly conducive to the order and benefit of civil society.... Manners, by which not only the freedom, but the very existence of the republics, are greatly affected, depend much upon the public institutions of religion and the good education of youth (as quoted in Brown, 1898, p. 269, emp. added).
There you have it. The Founders repeatedly articulated the #1 concern—the paramount, ultimate, most pressing issue facing the nation. Without this singular, critically important quality—if America does not get this one matter correct—the economy will be the least of our worries. Stated succinctly, that all-consuming, quintessential, premiere concern is: We the citizens, and our leaders, must reinstate acknowledgement of God and His religion (i.e., Christianity), and turn to Him in humble, penitent obedience. According to the Founders themselves, the God of the Bible was solely responsible for the establishment and perpetuation of the Republic. And that national recognition is the only thing that will preserve and sustain us, as it has done for over two centuries. Even if we could snap our fingers and fix all our economic woes instantaneously, without God’s favor we remain in deadly danger. Indeed, rather than fearing terrorists or economic depression, the time has come to reinstate a healthy, sober fear of God (Proverbs 1:7,29-33; Ecclesiastes 12:13; Hebrews 10:31; 12:29—see Miller, 2003; Miller, 2009).

Unless America can get this one, critical issue sorted out; unless a sizable percentage of Americans will go back to God, Christ, and the Bible, and recognize their foremost need of receiving divine favor; unless citizens can restore moral and sexual sanity to their behavior based on Christian principles, the country is destined to destruction. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). May God bless America.

REFERENCES


Brown, Abram (1898), John Hancock: His Book (Boston, MA: Lee & Shepard Publishers).

“Economy, Jobs Easily Top Problems in Americans’ Minds” (2010), Gallup, September 21, http://www.gallup.com/poll/143135/Economy-Jobs-Easily-Top-Problems-Americans-Minds.aspx.’

“Economy Top Issue for Voters; Size of Gov’t. May Be More Pivotal” (2010), Gallup, October 26, http://www.gallup.com/poll/144029/Economy-Top-Issue-Voters-Size-Gov-May-Pivotal.aspx.

Miller, Dave (2003), “Who Believes in Hell Anymore?” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2258.

Miller, Dave (2009), “God’s Fierce Anger,”  http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2242.

Scudder, Horace (1881), Noah Webster (Boston, MA: Houghton, Mifflin, & Co.).

Steiner, Bernard (1907), The Life and Correspondence of James McHenry (Cleveland, OH: Burrows Brothers).

Webster, Noah (1832), History of the United States (New Haven, CT: Durrie & Peck).

Angels Among Us by Ben Fronczek

http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?p=374

 Angels Among Us

Acts 12   (By Ben Fronczek)
Since the beginning of the year we’ve been looking at the book of Acts. As I read Chapter 12 this past week something  peaked my interest. Read the following:

Acts 12:1-19   It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them.  He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.  When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.

So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.

The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.
Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.
Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating.”
When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!”
“You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.”
But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the brothers about this,” he said, and then he left for another place.
In the morning, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter. After Herod had a thorough search made for him and did not find him, he cross-examined the guards and ordered that they be executed.” (NIV)
As the persecution against Christianity and the church spread, we read here that James is killed with the sword. After seeing how much this pleased the Jews Herod has Peter arrested. He may have thought he was next. But the Lord had a different plan. And so He sends an angel to Peter in prison, and we see him miraculously saved. What an amazing story.
Now what excited me this week and what I want to talk about is the reality of angels among us.  Angels are incredible beings; and for many of us mysterious. There are many people who quite literally do not believe in such mystical beings, but I do. As a matter of fact Angels are mentioned about 273 times in the Bible; 108 times in the Old Testament, and 165 times in the New Testament. So I would say that the mere number of references here indicate that these spiritual beings play a major role in carrying out God’s plans, and He wants us to know a little bit about them. .
As I began to research the topic of angels, I was almost overwhelmed with the information and stories that are out there; especially stories of angelic encounters.  I believe with all my heart that there are millions of angels at God’s command and ready to help and serve us.
Hebrews 1:14 refers to angels as, “ministering spirits.” They do not possess physical bodies like ours. They can seemingly take on the form of a physical body when God appoints them to special task. As far as we know they don’t reproduce, nor do they get married. (Mark 12:25).
There are many accounts of angels in the Bible. The Bible contains story after story of how God’s angels have interacted with man.  Just to mention a few:
In Genesis 18, we read about how the angels come to Abraham and how God used His angels to save Lot (Abraham’s nephew) before bringing judgment upon the wicked people of Sodom and Gomorrah.
In Daniel 6, we read the story of how God sent His angel to shut the mouths of the lions when Daniel was put into the lions den.
In Luke 1, we read the story of the angel Gabriel who appeared to Zacharias, father of John the Baptist, telling him that his wife, Elizabeth, would bare him a son and that he would be the forerunner of the coming Messiah.
Gabriel would appear again in Luke 1  to the Virgin Mary with an important message for not only her, but for all mankind; that she was going to conceive and bring forth a son, He would be the Messiah, and He would reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom would never end.
In Matthew 1, an angel appeared to, Joseph assuring him that Mary was with child through God and not through another man.
In Luke 2, God sent His heavenly messengers to deliver the news to the shepherds in the fields near Bethlehem that the Messiah, who had been prophesied in the Old Testament, had been born.
After Jesus died on the cross of Calvary, as His body lay in the tomb, and it was an angel of God that rolled away the huge stone guarding the entrance to the tomb for the disciple’s sake.
Here in Acts 12 we find the Apostle Peter, laying bound in shackles, in prison, awaiting execution. and an angel appeared. No bars or iron door prevented him from entering. The angel appeared unto Peter in the prison cell, shook him awake, and told him to prepare to escape.
As a light shone through the darkness of the prison, Peter’s chains fell off and he followed the angel out of the prison and into safety.  What a mighty deliverance God achieved through His angel.  These are just a few of the many stories we find in scripture.
Amazing stories of angelic encounters are still taking place today. The internet is just loaded with stories of angelic encounters. Here are a few for you to look at:
Deathbed Angels     BY  JENNIFER R.
I’m a nurse, and primarily work private duty, which means I get hired by families through a nurses registry to care for their family member or loved one. I care for patients 95 percent of the time in their homes. Many cases are hospice cases, and I go in knowing that my job is to keep my patient comfortable and their family at ease, knowing everything is okay.
I was on a case in June in Redding, Connecticut. I was caring for a man who was 91 and dying. I was lucky enough to spend some time with him before he started his path to heaven. His path was hard, for him and his family. Around the 8th day, I was mentally and physically beat. I work the 12-hour overnight shift, and spent plenty of time alone with my patient, counting his respirations, waiting for his last breath, letting him know it was okay to let go.
On evening around 10:30 p.m., the family was all asleep, my patient in his hospital bed, his wife in hers, and I was at his side. There was a mirror on the wall across from the bed, and I saw what seemed to be an image, a face. I looked harder since the room was dark, with only a faint light coming from the bathroom. The image became more and more clear. I looked behind me, around me, and nothing was there that could be reflecting the image in the mirror. Then, what I can only describe as a smoke, or mist, began to flow from the mirror.
At this point I’m frozen, unable to take my eyes away. Within this mist, I start to see what I can only describe as pockets of energy, some just round, others actually taking the shape of people. As these entered the room, they scattered throughout the home, and tiny little flashes of white and gold light flickered when these energies came close to each other.
I was so confused and convinced my mind was playing tricks and so I walked out on to the patio to get some air. Once outside, I slowly took some deep breaths and tried to shake it off, telling myself I was dreaming. As I turned around, I saw the flickering of lights still going strong in the house. This went on all night, until the family started to wake. I was so nervous to say anything, especially to the nurse coming in to relieve me. We had worked together many times before, and I was sure she would think I had gone crazy if I told her what I saw.
I finally decided to tell her, and told her of my story soon after she arrived. Her eyes filled up with tears, and she told me of a prayer she had prayed all day for our patient. At the end of each prayer she would add, “…please send the angels” for him.   “They answered my prayer!” she rejoiced!    I gently grabbed her arms, and cried, “Why didn’t you warn me?”
It was then that I realized I had seen angels that night. My life has been truly blessed by this experience and since then have seen angels with two more patients. I was always skeptical when I heard other nurses tell of similar things that they experienced. I know now wholeheartedly that it was real. I will never doubt again. If I never see angels again, I will never forget when I did
Angels Among Us by Rick Kallstrom
Don, Tim and Jim were college students from the Midwestern United States and they all attended the same university in Connecticut.  It was Christmas break time, 1983, and they were all looking forward to going home for the holidays. One came from Fort Wayne, Indiana while the other two were from Chicago, Illinois.
As they traveled by automobile on their way home they finally reached Indiana. They were now only two hours from Don’s home in Fort Wayne. The weather outside was bone-chilling cold and the ground was covered with heavy snow from a recent blizzard. The radio station they were listening to on the car radio was repeatedly giving weather updates and warnings advising travelers not to drive.
The wind chill factor had reached a record-setting 80 degrees below zero! To get stuck outside in this weather would be life-threatening. Travel was slow but they finally arrived safely at Don’s home in Fort Wayne. Because of the severe weather, Don’s parents invited Tim and Jim to spend the night before proceeding on to their own homes in Chicago.
They wanted the boys to wait until the weather improved and it was safe to drive again, but these college students were anxious to get home for the holidays to their families in Chicago. After all, it was Christmas Eve and they had only four more hours of driving to reach their destination.
They sincerely thanked Don’s parents for their generous offer but decided to brave the cold and snow and head home. After leaving Don’s house, Tim and Jim continued on their way home. They had traveled approximately 30 minutes and had finally reached the access road that would lead them to the toll expressway.
Tim’s automobile had done well in the bitter cold, but now it was beginning to sputter and lose power. The access road they were traveling was eleven miles long and it had been built along a hillside. It was a higher road then the rest. They were able to look out the car windows and see the many roads below, but they saw no other cars traveling that night. There were no houses within miles. 
They assumed that other travelers had heeded the weather warnings and made the smart choice to not travel on such a dangerous night.  Tim’s automobile continued to lose more and more power – and then with one final sputter and moan, the engine completely stopped. They were stuck in the middle of nowhere on the frozen road.
Soon the inside of the car became freezing cold. No other cars were anywhere to be seen. To leave the vehicle and attempt to walk to safety would likely mean death. No one could survive more than a couple of minutes outside in these record cold temperatures. Their feet were getting so cold and their bodies were becoming numb.
They didn’t know what to do, so in desperation, Tim began to pray. “Dear God, You are the only one who can help us now. Please help us dear God, please help us!”  Within moments, from out of nowhere, lights appeared shining brightly through their windows. How was this possible? They hadn’t seen anyone coming and they had been watching closely for any sign of life at all.
A big, strong-looking man approached their car and knocked on the window. “Need a tow fellas?” he asked. Excitedly and with a sense of great relief the two boys climbed into the warm cab of the tow truck. From the cab the boys used the driver’s truck phone and telephoned Don’s house. They would be spending the night after all! However, they would need some additional money to pay the driver who had rescued them. Don’s parents said they would be happy to help.
The tow-truck driver drove through Fort Wayne and back into the neighborhood where Don lived. They thanked the driver for rescuing them and asked him to wait just a moment while they went inside to borrow the money to pay him.
They jumped out of the truck and ran into Don’s house. Don handed them the money they had asked to borrow and immediately hurried back outside, grateful to pay the driver, but the tow truck was gone!
Don and his parents joined them outside, also wanting to thank the driver. The boy’s car was there, but there was no sign of the tow truck or its driver, nor was there any sign of a tow truck having ever been down that road.
Neither Don nor his family had heard any sound when they had arrived, even though they had been listening for them. There were no tire tracks anywhere on the snow-covered road. There was no tow bill, no tow truck driver, no farewell, and no taillights that could be seen off in the distance. There was no evidence anywhere that any vehicle had even been down that road!
The boys had no explanation other than that the tow truck driver was an angel sent by God to answer their prayer.
There are quite literally 1000’s of stories like these where people are convinced that they encountered an angel.
So I ask you 
– do you believe in the existence of angels? Surely I do, because the Bible says that there ARE angels; and I believe the Bible to be the true Word of God. Even though I have never seen one, I personally believe that God’s angels have protected me more than once.
So what can we gain from this information and knowledge of Angels?
#1) The existence of angels should remind us that the unseen realm is real. Just like the Sadducees in Jesus’ day who didn’t believe that there is a resurrection, or Angels, or spirits, (Acts 23: 8), many today deny the reality of anything they cannot see. But the biblical teachings concerning the existence of angels, are a constant reminder to us that there is an unseen realm that is real. If you remember the story, in 2 Kings 6:16-17, it is only when the Lord opened the eyes of Elisha’s servant to the reality of the invisible world that the servant saw that the mountains were full of angels and chariots of fire round about .
An unbelieving world may dismiss talk of angels as mere superstition, but Scripture offers these stories as insights and proof for us this unseen realm is real.  Even today, these encounters, these stories about individuals who see angels, also help reinforce the fact that there are many things that our  eyes just can’t see, especially God’s eternal spiritual realm.
#2) Understanding who and what angels are, and how great they are should also help us to appreciate how much God truly loves us as humans. As one takes the time to read and study scripture, God sets a plan in motion to save us from our sin, but not Angels when they rebelled.  In doing so, God has declared us His sons and daughters. Angels cannot make that claim. As great as they are, (and they are awesome and great) only we are created in God’s own image. We just stand in such a privileged position.
#3) The angels can also be a great example for us by showing us how obedient and worshipful they are. In heaven, God’s will is immediately, joyfully carried out without question. Their delight is to be God’s humble servants, each faithfully performing their assigned tasks, whether great or small. Our desire and prayer should be that we should be as loyal and serve God with such enthusiasm.
We also see how angels readily worship our God. Just to mention one of many examples, in Revelation 5:11-12, John records this, “Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand…” And what were they doing? Worshiping and praising our Lord!
I can’t help but believe angels find their highest joy in praising God; and if that is so, should we not delight in worshiping  and praising God each day?
#4) We should also be more aware of angels in our daily lives. Scripture makes it clear that God wants us to be aware of their existence and some of their activity.
When we worship together,  we are not only joining in with a great company of believers across this planet, worshipping our Lord together, we are also worship together with a multitude of unseen angels.. (I believe there are some with us here today!)
Though we do not ordinarily see or hear evidence of this heavenly worship, it can certainly enrich our sense of reverence for God and bolster our own worship if we appreciate the fact that angels are probably joining in with us as we worship our God.
#5. Moreover, we should also be aware that Angels are watching over us. They see how obedient or disobedient we are to God throughout the day. Even if we think our sins are done in secret and bring grief and no one else (except, of course, God himself), we should be sobered by the fact that perhaps many, many angels witness our disobedience and are also grieved by what we do or don’t do.
On the other hand, when we are discouraged and think that our faithful obedience to God goes unseen,  if we are encouraged by no one, you can be comforted by the fact that many angels witness the good you are doing and perhaps the long struggle you endure because you love Jesus.
Sometimes angels may even appear to us in secret. We read, “do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unaware” Heb 13:2 Gen. 18:2-5 & 19:1-3
If anything, this should encourage us to minister to the needs of those we do not know who seek our help. Someday in heaven you just might meet that angel who you helped when he appeared disguised as a human being in distress here on earth.
#6. And last of all, if you are suddenly delivered from danger, distress, or an accident, it just might be an angel sent from God to help you and you should be thankful. (Dan. 6:22; Acts 5:19-20, 12:7-11; Matt. 4:11, Ps. 91:11-12).  We should thank God for His mercy and His help and the angels among us!
Conclusion
This has only been a brief study of angel but what I want you to see is the fact that we are part of something far greater than anyone of us can see. And, that you are loved by God. Battles are being fought for us that we cannot even see. His angels stand ready at His command to help us and guard us from seen and unseen dangers.
Next time you hear someone say to you, I think my guardian angel helped me today, offer up God a special prayer of thanks, that He does care that much for us, that we have those periodic reminders that there is a wonderful spiritual realm, a heavenly realm that just lies beyond our vision. And I pray that you will walk by faith, and not by sight this day and every.

Jesus was not ashamed to die for us by Alfred Shannon Jr.

https://biblicalproof.wordpress.com/2011/02/

Jesus was not ashamed to die for us

 

Which friend of yours would you take a beating for, be mocked, slapped, spit upon, crowned with thorns, and nailed to a tree? What is worst, is that this was not done in private, but before the witness of enemies, friends, and family. Jesus was not ashamed  to die for us, but are we ashamed to  take up our cross, and follow Him?
Mt 10:32,33, 38; Mt 16:24-26; 1 Pet 2:21

“MATCH THAT!” by Jim McGuiggan


“MATCH THAT!”

If we believe the biblical Story is about a God who did not choose to be God without creation and humankind so he loved us into existence. [See Psalm 136.] He did that with a view to completing his purpose concerning us by bringing us into the image of Jesus—the immortal man, glorious in righteousness and who as a human is the perfect image of God. If we believe the Story it means that God purposed fellowship, communion, life together and that human response is to be human response and not simply God responding to himself. In short, he freely chose out of his infinite joy and love of life to have a family of holy and joy-filled companions.
With the advent of sin (which came as no surprise to God) it might have been thought that God would jettison the entire enterprise but not him—not this God! He had committed himself and would see the enterprise through and despite the God-denying look of much of human life that was the gospel that was proclaimed in numerous ways down through history. As surely as God’s overarching purpose was true companionship with creative human response just that surely he wanted people to work with him in securing it.
So woven into the fabric of the entire biblical witness is the picture of God walking through the earth looking not only for the lost and the troubled but looking for people who would trust him; people whose gallant faith would test him and provoke him to come up with the substance of the things he led them to dream about and envision.
More often than enough the search came to nothing and there were times when faithlessness became so marked even in his own people that he would say things like, Go find me one righteous man and I’ll forgive the city! (Jeremiah (5:1), or to Ezekiel (22:30), Find me one man to stand in the gap and I won’t destroy the city!
To faithless Israel he said (Isaiah 48:18); If only you had paid attention to my
commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea. See this too in Asa in 2 Chronicles 16:7-9 and in trustless Ahaz to
whom he said (Isaiah 7:10-11), Test me and I’ll meet your request no matter what it is. In fact, when the prophets (OT and NT) looked over Israel’s history it might be fair to say that their summary would have been Isaiah 65:2-3, All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people…a people who continually provoke me to my very face. But Hebrews 11 makes it clear that his search wasn’t always a failure and that he had reason to go back to the Land of the Trinity smiling to himself and with a sparkle in his eye. To the prematurely old Abraham and his barren wife (see Genesis 17:15-16 and 1 Peter 3:6.) he said, I will make you father and mother of countless children—can you trust me to accomplish that? They said yes and God walked off with a smile saying, I’ll be back. (See Genesis 18:10.)
And then there’s that marvelous psalm (Psalm 23) where some glorious believer couldn’t keep his mouth shut any longer and jumped up in church to say, I just want to say that I trust God come what may!
Whatever Genesis 1 and Exodus 14:10-31 taught the ancient Jews, it taught them that God was the Lord of the waters and everything else that existed. He spoke and it obeyed him (see also Isaiah 17:12-14). The sea was no god to be worshiped as it had been worshiped in Egypt, where Israel had spent so many years. Still, its restlessness, its destructive power and the fact that they couldn’t control it were enough to make it a symbol of threat and chaos. They often spoke of it in those terms. Isaiah said (17:12) Oh, the raging of many nations—they rage like the raging sea! Oh, the uproar of the peoples—they roar like the roaring of great waters.
Hear the pounding of huge waves as they smash against one another with destroying force is a graphic picture of clashing armies. In their wickedness they never ceased to cast up muck and debris (Isaiah 57:20). It was out of the restless Mediterranean (the Great Sea) that the four great Gentile kingdoms arose like monsters from a science fiction movie, devouring all before them and oppressing the people of God (Daniel 7:1-8). It’s no wonder then that when John describes the condition of the new heaven and earth in which the enemy has no place that he says of it, And there was no more sea—Revelation 21:1 with 13:1 .
With thoughts and images of cruel seas circulating in a little nation that for centuries had felt the power of oppressors, the psalmist’s defiant words in 46:1-3 ring out all the finer and braver and more trustful. People who had known no trouble didn’t sing the words he speaks—they’d known more than their share! These weren’t the words of a people who thought the world could be fixed if only people were given enough information. This man speaks for his entire people who expected the world to be wild and oppressive and who knew that either today or tomorrow they’d feel the hurt that powerful nations bring to weaker kingdoms. Knowing all that, fully aware of all that, certain that it will come to that, here’s what he says:
God is our refuge and strength,
An ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
And the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
Though its waters roar and foam and the mountains
Quake with their surging.
Picture this believer at some point in his life standing on top of the cliff, watching the huge waves building out there and then rushing toward him, picking up speed and power and they come. Imagine the shudder he feels in the ground when they thunder against the cliff face, again and again, unrelentingly, threatening to bring down the entire mountain and him along with it. Think of him, then, looking landward, to his home and people and the irresistible forces lined up against them.
It’s with all those images and realities in mind that he sings into the wind and later in church: Read again what he defiantly sings out of a faith-filled heart.
Modern believers also sing that song. I know many of them personally! They’re intelligent, wide-eyed, politically aware, as realistic as any you could meet and when they feel the shudder under their feet they take note of it and get on with their business of world-transformation by gospeling in all the ways that they do that; they’re some of the people, ancient and modern, who test God by placing their faith in him.
But no one ever tested God the way Jesus did! No one ever challenged God to the limit as Jesus did by his life of ceaseless devotion and trust. He laid it out before his Holy Father from the beginning right up to the moment when even in the midst of his awful feeling of abandonment on the cross he committed his spirit to his Father’s keeping.
His entire life and vision is described by Peter in the words of David (Acts 2:25-28 and Psalm 16:8-11):
I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.
As the psalm shows us, David knew the reality of a faith like that in his own life but only Jesus could fill his words to the utmost—nobody tested God as he did! But the words as a description of Jesus depth and breadth of trust in God, give us Jesus’ view of God. He saw God as worthy of even a perfect trust like his! In life Jesus gave his stamp of approval to all the lives and words of God’s ancient servants who told a worried nation in troubled times: “God can be trusted!”
Still, even the best of them wavered at times, whether it was Abraham, Moses or Samuel—but Jesus never did! Since the dawn of time God has been calling people to trust him and there were times when he got a grand response but one day he called to a child named Jesus and said, “Trust me!” and the little boy said, “I do and will!”
And one Friday, when He consummated his entire life of sinless holiness and warm righteousness, when he offered himself up in death, he laid it all out before God and said: “Match that!” And He did it with the utmost confidence that his Holy Father would do just that—He would match it!
                                                     And then came Sunday morning!

“How can you escape the condemnation of hell?” Matthew 23:33


http://www.oldpaths.com/Archive/Davison/Roy/Allen/1940/sinandhell.html


“How can you escape the condemnation of hell?”
Matthew 23:33
Jesus asked the scribes and Pharisees this question because of their sin (Matthew 23:13-36).

Jesus warns us about hell. Of the twelve passages in the New Testament containing the word ‘hell’ from the Greek word γέεννα, eleven are spoken by Christ. Six of them also contain the word sin.

Sin and hell are not popular words.

Are sin and hell really as bad as Jesus says? “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched” (Mark 9:43).

Some who call themselves Christians are embarrassed by what Jesus says about hell, so they abolish hell by teaching that everyone will be saved (universalism) or that hell is not eternal (annihilationism).

Jesus taught, however, that only few will enter the small gate and be saved, and that weeping and gnashing of teeth await the others (Luke 13:23-28).

He also taught that the fire of hell will be unending: “And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire -- where ‘Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched’” (Mark 9:47, 48). Both the punishment and the reward are everlasting: “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:46).

Some use Jesus’ teaching about hell as an excuse to reject Him. The atheistic philosopher, Bertrand Russell, wrote: "There is one very serious defect in Christ’s moral character, and that is that he believed in hell. I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment" (Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not A Christian, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1957, p.17).

We can question Russell’s qualifications to judge the morality of Jesus since he believed that sex outside of marriage was not necessarily immoral, advocated trial marriages and believed in easy divorce. He was married four times and had many extramarital affairs.

It is understandable that immoral people do not like what Jesus says about sin and hell.

Yet we will discuss the objections that some raise against this teaching of Jesus.

Two basic arguments are made: (1) hell is too severe as punishment; (2) God’s nature is incompatible with eternal punishment.

Here are some statements by people who make the first objection. “Eternal punishment for a mere lifetime of sin? How just is that?” “No finite act or sum of finite acts (which is itself finite) could be of sufficient severity to merit infinite punishment.” “Is it not plain that sins committed in time and space cannot deserve limitless retribution?”

This objection is simply an expression of man’s desire to make light of sin. How can the severity of sin be measured? Sin is a violation of God’s will. Thus, God is the One who determines its seriousness. Eternal punishment reveals the seriousness of sin!

Because of His love for man, and the terrible consequences of sin, Jesus makes clear how bad sin is: “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire” (Matthew 18:8, 9).

Jesus also indicated the seriousness of sin is by taking our punishment upon Himself and dying in our place so we can be saved from the eternal consequences of sin, if we repent and accept the grace and forgiveness offered through Him.

It is presumptuous to claim that punishment in hell is too severe. Hell proves how serious sin is.

Does eternal punishment conflict with the nature of God?

This involves asking why God does certain things. We should remember the question God asked Job: “Would you indeed annul My judgment? Would you condemn Me that you may be justified?” (Job 40:8).

What questions are asked by people who object to the idea of hell? Notice that each question is actually an attempt to blame God for sin.

Why did God make man able to sin?

Well, man can sin; that much is certain. So maybe the first question should be: what characteristic enables man to sin?

Angels are also able to sin: “For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, with seven others, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds) -- then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment” (2 Peter 2:4-9). Sinful angels were banished to hell and the unrighteous will share their punishment: “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).

What characteristic enables men and angels to sin? They are not robots, but are self-directing beings. Why did God create them that way? I guess He wanted men and angels, rather than robots. Why? Well, would you rather have a robot or a child with whom you can have a voluntary loving relationship?

One could make a cute little robot with an electronic eye, and program it so that when it ‘saw’ you, it would come rolling toward you, throw out its arms and say, “I love you! I love you!” Would that be love? The God of love had more in mind.

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth’” (Genesis 1:26-28).

God created man to rule. What did He tell Cain about sin? “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it” (Genesis 4:7).

Man is accountable because his sin results from his own choice.

Another question is asked: Since God is all-powerful and has foreknowledge, why does He not only allow people to be born who will choose what is right?

That God is all-powerful does not mean that He can do contradictory things. When God gives man a choice, it must be a real choice, not a make-believe choice, because that is no choice at all. A choice exists only if there is a real alternative.

God’s knowledge of the future is not deterministic but observational, just like our knowledge of the past is observational. God exists outside of time, but man must make his choice in the course of time.

In fact, God allows people to be born even though He knows that all of them will sin (Romans 3:23). He does this because He has a plan by which any of them who wants to can be saved! “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).

By objecting to hell, people try to blame God for their sins.

In Ezekiel’s day the people were complaining: “If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?” (Ezekiel 33:10). They tried to blame God that they were burdened by sin. Ezekiel was to tell them: “‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die?’” (Ezekiel 33:11). In stead of complaining, they just needed to repent!

Another question people ask is: How can a good God send anyone to hell? Paul wrote to people who refused to repent: “Do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4).

God in His great goodness and mercy is willing to forgive and sanctify the vilest sinner who repents. If we believe in Jesus, repent of our sins, confess our faith and are baptized, we can be forgiven (Acts 2:38).

When people refuse to repent, they may not blame God for the consequences. Paul continues: “But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who ‘will render to each one according to his deeds’: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness -- indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God” (Romans 2:5-11).

God’s judgment is righteous. He would not be just if He left sin unpunished. Since everyone sins, everyone deserves punishment.

Yet, there is a difference among people. It is not that some are sinless and some are not. The difference is that some believe in God, love Him, and want to do what is right (although they fall short), whereas others turn their back on God.

God would be unjust if He showed favoritism. He cannot just pass over the sins of those who love Him and are trying to do what is right, because they too have sinned.

Thus He sent His Son who lived a life without sin and did not deserve to die (John 10:17, 18). Jesus allowed himself to be crucified to pay the penalty for our sins, “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness -- by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24 - See Isaiah 53:5).

Hell is not too severe a punishment for sin, and God’s nature is not incompatible with eternal punishment, since He has provided a way of escape through the sacrifice of Christ.

I know that sin and hell are as bad as Jesus says, because reliable evidence and testimony prove that He is the Son of God and knows what He is talking about. He fulfilled the Old Testament prophesies about the coming King.

His life and teaching prove that He is the Messiah. “He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (1 John 5:10, 11).

As the officers said, who came back empty-handed after they were to arrest Jesus: “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (John 7:46). What was the testimony of the Roman soldiers who crucified Christ? “So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’” (Matthew 27:54).

No one has ever shown more love for His fellow man than Jesus. Thus when He warns us about hell, we should listen.

“And 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. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:4, 5).
Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive
(http://www.oldpaths.com)

Bible Reading March 7,8 by Gary Rose

Bible Reading March 7,8
(World English Bible)
Mar. 7
Exodus 17

Exo 17:1 All the congregation of the children of Israel traveled from the wilderness of Sin, by their journeys, according to Yahweh's commandment, and encamped in Rephidim; but there was no water for the people to drink.
Exo 17:2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses, and said, "Give us water to drink." Moses said to them, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test Yahweh?"
Exo 17:3 The people were thirsty for water there; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us, our children, and our livestock with thirst?"
Exo 17:4 Moses cried to Yahweh, saying, "What shall I do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me."
Exo 17:5 Yahweh said to Moses, "Walk on before the people, and take the elders of Israel with you, and take the rod in your hand with which you struck the Nile, and go.
Exo 17:6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb. You shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink." Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
Exo 17:7 He called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because the children of Israel quarreled, and because they tested Yahweh, saying, "Is Yahweh among us, or not?"
Exo 17:8 Then Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
Exo 17:9 Moses said to Joshua, "Choose men for us, and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with God's rod in my hand."
Exo 17:10 So Joshua did as Moses had told him, and fought with Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
Exo 17:11 It happened, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
Exo 17:12 But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side. His hands were steady until sunset.
Exo 17:13 Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
Exo 17:14 Yahweh said to Moses, "Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under the sky."
Exo 17:15 Moses built an altar, and called its name Yahweh our Banner.
Exo 17:16 He said, "Yah has sworn: 'Yahweh will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.' "

Mar. 8
Exodus 18

Exo 18:1 Now Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses' father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses, and for Israel his people, how that Yahweh had brought Israel out of Egypt.
Exo 18:2 Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, received Zipporah, Moses' wife, after he had sent her away,
Exo 18:3 and her two sons. The name of one son was Gershom, for Moses said, "I have lived as a foreigner in a foreign land".
Exo 18:4 The name of the other was Eliezer, for he said, "My father's God was my help and delivered me from Pharaoh's sword."
Exo 18:5 Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife to Moses into the wilderness where he was encamped, at the Mountain of God.
Exo 18:6 He said to Moses, I, your father-in-law Jethro, have come to you with your wife, and her two sons with her.
Exo 18:7 Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and bowed and kissed him. They asked each other of their welfare, and they came into the tent.
Exo 18:8 Moses told his father-in-law all that Yahweh had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, all the hardships that had come on them on the way, and how Yahweh delivered them.
Exo 18:9 Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which Yahweh had done to Israel, in that he had delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians.
Exo 18:10 Jethro said, "Blessed be Yahweh, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh; who has delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians.
Exo 18:11 Now I know that Yahweh is greater than all gods because of the thing in which they dealt arrogantly against them."
Exo 18:12 Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God. Aaron came with all of the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses' father-in-law before God.
Exo 18:13 It happened on the next day, that Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from the morning to the evening.
Exo 18:14 When Moses' father-in-law saw all that he did to the people, he said, "What is this thing that you do for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning to evening?"
Exo 18:15 Moses said to his father-in-law, "Because the people come to me to inquire of God.
Exo 18:16 When they have a matter, they come to me, and I judge between a man and his neighbor, and I make them know the statutes of God, and his laws."
Exo 18:17 Moses' father-in-law said to him, "The thing that you do is not good.
Exo 18:18 You will surely wear away, both you, and this people that is with you; for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to perform it yourself alone.
Exo 18:19 Listen now to my voice. I will give you counsel, and God be with you. You represent the people before God, and bring the causes to God.
Exo 18:20 You shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and shall show them the way in which they must walk, and the work that they must do.
Exo 18:21 Moreover you shall provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God: men of truth, hating unjust gain; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.
Exo 18:22 Let them judge the people at all times. It shall be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they shall judge themselves. So shall it be easier for you, and they shall share the load with you.
Exo 18:23 If you will do this thing, and God commands you so, then you will be able to endure, and all of these people also will go to their place in peace."
Exo 18:24 So Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law, and did all that he had said.
Exo 18:25 Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.
Exo 18:26 They judged the people at all times. They brought the hard causes to Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves.
Exo 18:27 Moses let his father-in-law depart, and he went his way into his own land.
 
Mar. 7, 8
Mark 6

Mar 6:1 He went out from there. He came into his own country, and his disciples followed him.
Mar 6:2 When the Sabbath had come, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many hearing him were astonished, saying, "Where did this man get these things?" and, "What is the wisdom that is given to this man, that such mighty works come about by his hands?
Mar 6:3 Isn't this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judah, and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" They were offended at him.
Mar 6:4 Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own relatives, and in his own house."
Mar 6:5 He could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people, and healed them.
Mar 6:6 He marveled because of their unbelief. He went around the villages teaching.
Mar 6:7 He called to himself the twelve, and began to send them out two by two; and he gave them authority over the unclean spirits.
Mar 6:8 He commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a staff only: no bread, no wallet, no money in their purse,
Mar 6:9 but to wear sandals, and not put on two tunics.
Mar 6:10 He said to them, "Wherever you enter into a house, stay there until you depart from there.
Mar 6:11 Whoever will not receive you nor hear you, as you depart from there, shake off the dust that is under your feet for a testimony against them. Assuredly, I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!"
Mar 6:12 They went out and preached that people should repent.
Mar 6:13 They cast out many demons, and anointed many with oil who were sick, and healed them.
Mar 6:14 King Herod heard this, for his name had become known, and he said, "John the Baptizer has risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him."
Mar 6:15 But others said, "He is Elijah." Others said, "He is a prophet, or like one of the prophets."
Mar 6:16 But Herod, when he heard this, said, "This is John, whom I beheaded. He has risen from the dead."
Mar 6:17 For Herod himself had sent out and arrested John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, for he had married her.
Mar 6:18 For John said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife."
Mar 6:19 Herodias set herself against him, and desired to kill him, but she couldn't,
Mar 6:20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he did many things, and he heard him gladly.
Mar 6:21 Then a convenient day came, that Herod on his birthday made a supper for his nobles, the high officers, and the chief men of Galilee.
Mar 6:22 When the daughter of Herodias herself came in and danced, she pleased Herod and those sitting with him. The king said to the young lady, "Ask me whatever you want, and I will give it to you."
Mar 6:23 He swore to her, "Whatever you shall ask of me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom."
Mar 6:24 She went out, and said to her mother, "What shall I ask?" She said, "The head of John the Baptizer."
Mar 6:25 She came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, "I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptizer on a platter."
Mar 6:26 The king was exceedingly sorry, but for the sake of his oaths, and of his dinner guests, he didn't wish to refuse her.
Mar 6:27 Immediately the king sent out a soldier of his guard, and commanded to bring John's head, and he went and beheaded him in the prison,
Mar 6:28 and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the young lady; and the young lady gave it to her mother.
Mar 6:29 When his disciples heard this, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.
Mar 6:30 The apostles gathered themselves together to Jesus, and they told him all things, whatever they had done, and whatever they had taught.
Mar 6:31 He said to them, "You come apart into a deserted place, and rest awhile." For there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.
Mar 6:32 They went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.
Mar 6:33 They saw them going, and many recognized him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to him.
Mar 6:34 Jesus came out, saw a great multitude, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things.
Mar 6:35 When it was late in the day, his disciples came to him, and said, "This place is deserted, and it is late in the day.
Mar 6:36 Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages, and buy themselves bread, for they have nothing to eat."
Mar 6:37 But he answered them, "You give them something to eat." They asked him, "Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give them something to eat?"
Mar 6:38 He said to them, "How many loaves do you have? Go see." When they knew, they said, "Five, and two fish."
Mar 6:39 He commanded them that everyone should sit down in groups on the green grass.
Mar 6:40 They sat down in ranks, by hundreds and by fifties.
Mar 6:41 He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he blessed and broke the loaves, and he gave to his disciples to set before them, and he divided the two fish among them all.
Mar 6:42 They all ate, and were filled.
Mar 6:43 They took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and also of the fish.
Mar 6:44 Those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.
Mar 6:45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat, and to go ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he himself sent the multitude away.
Mar 6:46 After he had taken leave of them, he went up the mountain to pray.
Mar 6:47 When evening had come, the boat was in the midst of the sea, and he was alone on the land.
Mar 6:48 Seeing them distressed in rowing, for the wind was contrary to them, about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea, and he would have passed by them,
Mar 6:49 but they, when they saw him walking on the sea, supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out;
Mar 6:50 for they all saw him, and were troubled. But he immediately spoke with them, and said to them, "Cheer up! It is I! Don't be afraid."
Mar 6:51 He got into the boat with them; and the wind ceased, and they were very amazed among themselves, and marveled;
Mar 6:52 for they hadn't understood about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
Mar 6:53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret, and moored to the shore.
Mar 6:54 When they had come out of the boat, immediately the people recognized him,
Mar 6:55 and ran around that whole region, and began to bring those who were sick, on their mats, to where they heard he was.
Mar 6:56 Wherever he entered, into villages, or into cities, or into the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch just the fringe of his garment; and as many as touched him were made well.