Christ’s Foot Soldiers – part 6

So far in this series, we have discussed how to deliver the gospel, what to convey in that delivery, and have handled some of the objections that those we would evangelize to, may toss our way. Let’s press forward in ways to handle three other concerns of those whom we would lead to salvation, as we bring this series to a close:

4. ‘I believe that when you’re dead, that’s it.’

‘The question of whether there is life after death has been pondered since the beginning of humankind. Fortunately, God has richly revealed the true nature of His eternal disposition of the dead. The first thing to get a hold of, is that everyone is resurrected:’

…the dust returns to the earth as it once was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. Eccl. 12:7 CSB

Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake (resurrect), these to everlasting life, but some to disgrace and everlasting contempt (abhorrence). Dn. 12:2 AMP

“…for a time is coming when all those who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and they will come out – those who did good things [will come out] to a resurrection of [new] life, but those who did evil things [will come out] to a resurrection of judgment [that is, to be sentenced].” Jn. 5:28, 29. AMP

‘As we can see, there are only two paths for God’s eternal disposition of resurrected humankind – heaven or hell. The good news is, that you have complete control over which way God renders His sentence.

You can ignore God’s directions for how to live your life, which is living in a form of disobedience (i.e. to commit unrepentant sin). Consequently, as you’ve just seen, you will live out an eternity in God’s contempt, sentenced to exist in His absence, in hell, without love nor any chance of redemption through Christ. Not a good place to be:’

‘Then He will also say to those on the left hand, “Depart from Me you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”’ Mt. 25:41 NKJV

“…to be cast into hell fire – ‘Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’” Mk. 9:47, 48. NKJV

‘There is no way to dress up the final destination of the devil and his followers. And be certain of this, you are either following God or chasing after Satan. There is no in-between.

So, you could instead make the choice to walk in God’s instruction, most importantly the part about accepting His Son, Jesus Christ as your Savior, so that all the times that you have slipped up, are slipping up, and the times that you will slip up, will not incur the penalty of being eternally marooned as a tormented soul:’

“…through His name everyone who believes in Him [whoever trusts in and relies on Him, accepting Him as Savior and Messiah] receives forgiveness of sins.” Acts 10:43 AMP

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life…” Jn. 3:36 ESV

‘Eternal ‘life’ is a heavenly life. Yes, there is a heaven:’

…the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed… Dn. 2:44 NKJV

‘The ‘kingdom of heaven’ is the same as the ‘kingdom of God’ – a kingdom only open to those who accept Christ. It is a spiritual / inner kingdom on this earth where God’s children dedicate themselves to forward that same kingdom, by filling its ranks.

Yet, it is also a kingdom that we aspire to spend eternity in, in its final manifestation:’

For the outward form of this world [its present social and material nature] is passing away. 1 Cor. 7:31 AMP

…the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth. Eccl. 7:1 NASB

For surely there is a hereafter, and your hope will not be cut off. Pr. 23:18 NKJV

‘Jesus Himself prepares a place in heaven for every child of God:’

“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” Jn. 14:2 NASB

‘At the end of time, there will be great havoc and wars; yet God will separate His children, (those cleansed by the salvation blood of Christ), from the lawless, and deliver them from the final destruction of earth into His blessed presence. And they shall be transformed:’

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing. Is. 35:5, 6. NKJV

‘Wrapped with new immortal, indestructible bodies:’

It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. 1 Cor. 15:42 – 44. NASB

‘We will be living LARGE in our heavenly home forever:’

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth…the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God…And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people…And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Rv. 21:1 – 4. NKJV

5. ‘Why does a good God allow such injustice, cruelty and suffering?’

‘God did not plan for a world with these conditions. The world He created was a paradise:’

And God blessed them [granting them certain authority] and said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subjugate it [putting it under your power]; and rule over (dominate) the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and every living thing…” Gn. 1:28 AMP

The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food… Gn. 2:8 NASB

‘Everything was gifted to Adam and Eve. God also gifted them (and us) with free will. He did that so that they might love Him, because conscripted love is not love. Unfortunately, they used that free will to choose to rebel against God’s authority. Because of Adam’s sin, (the taint of which is carried through all generations), we all die – as God had told them would happen if they made that choice. Thus, the problem is not God, (He’s just being true to His word), it is humankind.

God does not plan anything evil:’

“It is impossible for God to do wrong, and for the Almighty to act unjustly.” Job 34:10 CSB

‘All we had to do was follow God’s instructions:’

“If you want to live securely in the land, follow my decrees and obey my regulations. Lv. 25:18 NLT

‘Why? Because God loves us:’

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Pt. 5:7 NLT

‘God’s hands are tied when we turn our backs on Him, because God will not violate our free will. Therefore, we are left to experience what we bring upon ourselves.

Yet God is loving and merciful as well. He sent Adam and Eve out of the Garden, having atoned for their sins (with respect to its immediate effects upon them), onto a new path for redemption.

However, within ten generations later, humankind rebelled against God again, this time on a global scale. Again, God would not violate their free will to wantonly violate His commands. He left them to their own designs, which ultimately resulted in a sentence of death.

There was only one family of eight people that was following God, led by Noah; which was fortunate for us, because again we behold God’s mercy, when He uses them to give humans a do-over by repopulating the earth from their seed. (Gn. Ch.6 – 10.)

Many generations later, in spite of many human-induced bumps along the way, God preserved His people, creating a seed-bed that would bless all generations all over the world. (Gn. 22:17, 18). He sent them a mighty prophet, Moses, who would lead His children into the Promised Land. Moses spoke for God, who gave him the Ten Commandments to teach the people. Thus, there could be no further confusion regarding how they were to live their lives, nor any excuse for being in violation of them.

Once again, the people rebelled. (Ex. Ch. 32; Dt. 9:24.) Subsequently, an entire generation was denied access to the Promised Land; but God’s mercy never wanes. Their children were given admission.

They too rebelled, over and over. God sent them more prophets to try to turn them back to His ways, and to inform them of the price to pay, if they didn’t. They propped up human kings, trying to usurp His authority. The people practiced pagan rites, including the killing of their own children. For these things, God gave them over to their circumstances – allowing them to be conquered and enslaved. Yet, after a time, He brought His people home.

Still, the rebellion never ceased. The people favored the voice of Satan, (the author of their rebellion), over their Creator. (By the way, the devil was not created to be evil; he chose to be that way). People don’t realize that the enemy hates them:’

And the great dragon was thrown down, the age-old serpent who is called the devil and Satan, he who continually deceives and seduces the entire inhabited world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Rv. 12:9 AMP

…the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelieving to prevent them from seeing the illuminating light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Cor. 4:3, 4. AMP

‘God has never wavered in His purpose: to wipe out evil and restore the earth to the paradise it was before the wayward people corrupted it, and to fill it with those who love Him for eternity:’

“Now judgment is upon this world [the sentence is being passed]. Now the rule of this world (Satan) will be cast out.” Jn. 12:31 AMP

“…the God of the heavens will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed…” Dn. 2:44 CSB

“…for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure…” Is. 46:9, 10. NASB

“Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them…” Rv. 21:3 NASB

‘Even now, with the majority of the world still resisting God, denying Him and defying His commandments, He sent a final doorway, an entrance into heaven – His Son, Jesus Christ. Our part is to confess our sinful state, repent to the best of our ability, accept Jesus in our heart, and make Him Lord over our lives. Then, and only then, will our slates be wiped clean:’

“I am the [only] Way [to God’ and the [real] Truth and the [real] Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” Jn. 14:6 AMP

‘So, is God an unfair God? Hardly…’

The righteous will inherit the land, and dwell in it forever. Ps. 37:29 NKJV

…according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 2 Pt. 3:13 NKJV

6. ‘Christians don’t act any better than non-believers.’

‘Many times, that is unfortunately the case. We all must battle our sin nature, and often, everyone will lose some of those skirmishes:’

…for there is no one who does not sin… 1 Kn. 8:46 CSB

‘Yet, a Christian is acutely aware when they sin, through the conviction of Christ, who mercifully leads them back to Him for confession and repentance. Christ went to the cross so that we might receive His forgiveness for our sins, and be given the grace to avoid an eternity of condemnation:’

We know [with confidence] that anyone born of God does not habitually sin; but He (Jesus) who was born of God [carefully] keeps and protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. 1 Jn. 5:18 AMP

‘It’s a matter of living in God’s grace, doing the best that we can, and Christ will make up the difference.

The important thing to realize, is not to throw that first stone, because we all have to answer to God for our own behavior:’

So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore… Rm. 14:12 NKJV

This to my dear readers: I hope that you feel better-equipped to share the gospel. What a privilege it is, to contribute to the human soul, through serving the living, loving God…

Goodnight and God bless.

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The Final Destinies of the City of God and the Earthly City – part 3

Last time, we ended with the saints entering the threshold of eternal bliss with their Creator, and the citizens of the earthy city entering their own new domain – the city of the devil. 

“…and they will come out – those who did good things [will come out] to a resurrection of [new] life, but those who did evil things [will come out] to a resurrection of judgment [that is, to be sentenced].” Jn. 5:29 AMP

“The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” Mt. 13:41 – 43. NASB

“Then these [unbelieving people] will go away into eternal (unending) punishment, but those who are righteous and in right standing with God [will go, by His remarkable grace] into eternal (unending) life.” Mt. 25:26 AMP

So, regardless of what many people want to believe, (that there is no hell, no consequences for sin), here is the validation of the truth – right out of the mouth of our Savior.

We see that the punishment is permanent. We also know that the unbelievers / willfully rebellious will suffer everlasting retribution in their bodies, which cannot be registered unless the owner of that body is contiguous with his or her soul. Therefore, whatever the nature of their corrupted bodies, they can suffer their penal wounds and yet remain sustainable. That is truly hell.

“If your hand causes you to stumble and sin, cut it off [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]! It is better for you to enter life crippled, than to have two hands and go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, [where their worm does not die, and the fire is not put out.] Mk. 9:43, 44. AMP

You see now, the urgency that we, as Christ’s followers, have in sounding the alarm to the unbelievers – to show them the way to salvation. 

Many unbelievers and lukewarm Christians would protest, saying that an all-loving God could not produce such a hell. Ironically, they are right, but not in the way you might suspect. Satan perverted his environment and God banished him to it, as well as those who choose to follow in his footsteps.

And the devil who had deceived them was hurled into the lake of fire and burning brimstone (sulfur), where the beast (Antichrist) and false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Rv. 20:10 AMP 

These same doubters may again profess opposition to what they think is the ‘unfairnesses’ of the eternal aspect of this punishment. There are a couple of things to consider. First, there will be no time. Thus, the length of the sentence of the punished, will not be able to be discerned. Two, and most importantly, God has warned all of humankind since the beginning of their presence on earth, of this outcome, should they steadfastly reject him. Moreover, He gave each of them a lifetime to come around.

…he who destroyed in himself a good which might have been eternal, became worthy of eternal evil…for he who at first gave entrance to sin has been punished with all his posterity who were in him as in a root, so that no one is exempt from this just and due punishment, unless delivered by mercy and undeserved grace… – St. Augustine 

Moreover, God must keep His word, in order to maintain His truth.

Whoever, therefore, desires to escape eternal punishment, let him not only be baptized, but also justified in Christ, and so let him in truth pass from the devil to Christ. – St. Augustine

Thank God that His children in the eternal city of God have a far different destiny…

That destiny begins with having God Himself in their presence. 

Your dead will live; their dead bodies will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy! For your dew is a dew of [celestial] light [heavenly, supernatural], and the earth will give birth to the spirits of the dead. Is. 26:19 AMP

“Now at that [end] time Michael, the great [angelic] prince who stands guard over the children of your people will arise…at the time your people, everyone who is found written in the Book [of Life], will be rescued. Dan. 12:1 AMP

‘…the saints (believers) of the Most High [God] will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come.’ Dan. 7:18 AMP

How are we going to be when we enter heaven on earth?

“…not a hair of your head will be lost.” LK. 21:18 NKJV

…we all reach unity of faith and of the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. Eph. 4:13 CSB

…He was conformed to us by assuming mortality, we shall be conformed to Him by immortality… St. Augustine

…equal to the angels in immortality and happiness… St. Augustine

…deformity shall perish… St. Augustine

In the city of God, we are complete, whole, happy and immortal. It doesn’t matter what happened to your earthly body: buried in the ground, cremated, eaten by a bear, etc. God gives you an immortal, incorruptible body. We were condemned on earth due to Adam’s sin, but in our eternal house, we are made ultimately clean by the blood of Jesus:

…it is sown a natural body [mortal, suited to earth], it is raised a spiritual body [immortal, suited to heaven]. As surely as there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. 1 Cor. 15:44 AMP

Our new body is vibrant and healthy – physically and mentally, and it is subject to the spirit, no longer given to sin. Even our free will won’t go there, thank God.

When this promise is fulfilled, what shall we be? What blessings shall we receive in that kingdom, since already we have received as the pledge of them Christ’s dying? In what condition shall the spirit of man be, when it has no longer any vice at all; when it neither yields to any, nor is in bondage to any, nor has to make war against any, but is perfected and enjoys undisturbed peace with itself? Shall it not then know all things with certainty, and without any labor or error, when unhindered and joyful it drinks the wisdom of God at the fountainhead? What shall the body be, when it is in every respect subject to the spirit, from which it shall draw a life so sufficient, as to strand in need of no the nutriment? For it shall no longer be animal, but spiritual, having indeed the substance of flesh, but without any fleshly corruption. – St. Augustine

And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus [is yours]. Phil. 4:7 AMP 

At total peace, filled with the knowledge and love of God:

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part [for our knowledge is fragmentary and incomplete]. But when that which is complete and perfect comes, that which is incomplete and partial will pass away. 1 Cor. 13:9, 10. AMP

For now [in this time of imperfection] we see in a mirror dimly [a blurred reflection, a riddle, an enigma], but then [when the time of perfection comes we will see reality] face to face. Now I know in part [just in fragments], but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known [by God]. 1 Cor. 13:12 AMP

And, we’ll get to meet Jesus!

Beloved, we are [even here and] now children of God, and it is not yet made clear what we will be [after His coming]. We know that when He comes and is revealed, we will [as His children] be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is [in all His glory]. 1 Jn. 3:2 AMP

Doesn’t that just fill you with awesome expectation? 

“Blessed [anticipating God’s presence, spiritually mature] are the pure in heart [those with integrity, moral courage, and godly character], for they will see God.” Mt. 5:8 AMP

Are you getting excited yet? 

And [I pray] that the eyes of your heart [the very center and core of your being] may be enlightened [flooded with light by the Holy Spirit], so that you will know and cherish the hope [the divine guarantee, the confident expectation] to which He has called you, the riches of HIs glorious inheritance in the saints (God’s people)… Eph. 1:18 AMP

How great shall be that felicity, which shall be tainted with no evil, which shall lack no good, and which shall afford leisure for the praises of God, who shall be all in all!  St. Augustine 

And, there will be gifts / honors bestowed upon everyone in accordance to their good deeds. 

There shall be the great Sabbath which has no evening…There we shall rest and see, see and love, love and praise. Thais is what shall be in the end without end. St. Augustine

Finally, we get with the Father and the Son – forever:

…when all things are subjected to Him (Christ), then the Son Himself will also be subjected to the One (the Father) who put all things under Him, so that God may be all in all [manifesting His glory without any opposition, the supreme indwelling and controlling factor of life]. 1 Cor. 15:28 AMP

Such a wonder awaits. Spread the news…

This marks the end of our 5-month journey through the City of God, written by St. Augustine of Hippo, and translated by Marcus Dods. I hope that our excursion through this deeper theology has brought you value.  

Goodnight and God bless. 

What Makes the Children of God Special?

It’s not because we are better than anyone else. God loves all people equally:

For God shows no partiality [no arbitrary favoritism; with Him one person is not more important than another.] Rm. 2:11 AMP

Every human being that has ever existed or that ever will, starts out as a child of God. You’re created that way because God loves you so much. However, there will come a time in your life (if someone exposes you to who God is and you are mature enough to process that information), when you will have to make a choice whether to actively seek God if you want to remain His child.

Why? It’s because when you become aware of God’s salvation, the generational sin-taint that Adam and Eve brought upon themselves and passed it down to all generations, manifests in you as well, and it must be removed by the atoning blood of Christ.

Your choice to seek after God and subsequently receive His salvation through His Son has eternal consequences. You must accept God while you still draw breath in this life. Given that no one knows when that last breath will come, it is imperative that you make that choice today. You may not have a ‘tomorrow;’ and then the chance of being a child of God is lost to you forever.

Everyone has the potential to become a child of God, but they must first establish a relationship with Him to receive that mantle – by confessing their sins, repenting, entering into a salvation relationship with Christ by faith and do their best to live by His word. Then and only then, will they be transformed from a human being back into your original lineage as a child of God.

Does that make you better than someone who does not make that choice? No. What making the choice for God and Jesus does, is that it removes any barriers that prevent God’s love from reaching you. That makes you ‘special’ in His eyes because of the new ‘love reciprocity’ in your holy relationship with Him.

God chooses those who choose Him, not for their special qualities, but simply because they loved Him back – just like He did for His children in the desert with Moses:

For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you… Dt. 7:6 – 8. ESV

God accepts us not because we are superior, but because we make an ongoing choice to be holy:

Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments… Dt. 7:9 NKJV

Being a child of God has its advantages:

And because you listen to these rules and keep them and do them, the LORD your God will keep with you the covenant and the steadfast love that he swore to your fathers. He will love you, bless you, and multiply you…You shall be blessed above all peoples. Dt. 7:12 – 14. ESV

We get to live a blessed life! Look at how God blessed His ‘first children’ during their exit to the Promised Land:

And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he…fed you with manna…that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but lives why every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years. Dt. 8:2 – 4. ESV

For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land…in which you will lack nothing. Dt. 8;7, 9. ESV

God steers you on a path that leads you to your greatest good. With God, it’s always about the love. He provides you with your best life when you partner with Him – letting nothing stand in His way of giving it to you:

Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours…No man shall be able to stand against you. Dt. 11:24, 25. NKJV

And there you shall eat before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your households, in all that you undertake, in which the LORD your God has blessed you. Dt. 12:7 ESV

Finally, a child of God not only enjoys a blessed life, but he or she is also guaranteed an eternal life of complete love – gathered up at the end of time by Jesus Himself:

“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:’ Mt. 25:34 NKJV

Choose to be a child again…

Goodnight and God bless.