The Final Destinies of the City of God and the Earthly City – part 2

Since the beginning of the commingled history of these two cities, God has judged the citizenry – beginning with Adam and Eve. This continual judgment could have been avoided had the citizens adhered to the word of God. But alas, we have human weakness and a proclivity towards self-indulgence:

…no man acts rightly save by the assistance of divine aid; and no man or devil acts unrighteously save by the permission of the divine and most just judgment. – St. Augustine

‘For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the LORD, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’ Jer. 29:11 AMP

God’s plan is bigger than we can fully comprehend. We see some good people live difficult lives while we also witness many of dubious character live lives of wealthy excess with a continual satiation of sinful appetites – where it seems that no apparent penalty is being applied. 

In spite of what looks like an unresolved imbalance, (which somehow fits into God’s design), at the end of all present things, God has wondrous things in store for His children in the city of God, of whom all receive His promised eternal rewards:

And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to HIs plan and purpose. Rm. 8:28 AMP

So, regardless of our difficulties in this earthly life, we must do our best to stay on Jehovah’s path:

…in these days of vanity it makes an important difference whether he resists or yields to the truth, and whether he is destitute of true piety of a partaker of it – important not so far as regards the acquirement of the blessings or the evasion of the calamities of this transitory and vain life, but in connection with the future judgment which shall make over to good men good things, and to bad men band things…For whosever has real existence is this, is a keeper of God’s commandments; and he who is not this, is nothing. For so long as he means in the likeness of vanity, he is not renewed in the image of the truth… – St. Augustine

When all has been heard, the end of the matter is: fear God [worship Him with awe-filled reverence, knowing that He is almighty God] and keep His commandments, of this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, every hidden and secret thing, whether it is good or evil. Eccl. 12:13, 14. AMP

To better understand that end, we must visit the events in the book of Revelation. Accordingly, however you view the concept of the ‘rapture,’ there will be a time when many of God’s children will be sequestered from the tumultuous events during the tribulations. In addition, there will be some holdouts that come to salvation through Christ as that time.

Thus, the city of God, (which we must remember is also the ‘kingdom of God’, exists in the present, but has its full realization at the end of time), is co-existing with the city of the earth during the tribulations. 

The resurrection of the ‘two witnesses’ signals the end of the tribulations, and the last chance for any of the city of the earth to change citizenship is then lost…

Following will be the ‘first resurrection,’ that is when the elders, the dead and still living saints, the Jewish converts to Christ, the ‘great multitude’ and the two witnesses come to reign with Christ on the earth for 1000 years

Note that nations are still existing on the earth (those unbelievers that managed to escape death during the tribulations – still having babies). All other dead unbelievers will stay dead during this ‘millennium.’  So, in effect, the city of God is again co-habituating this earth with the living remnant of the citizens of the city of the earth, all of whom are existing in their ‘soul state.’

During this 1000-year period, remember that the devil is bound up with the rebel angels in the abyss. (Rv. 20:1-3). And so, he has no direct influence in this time.

Thus, all without exception, were dead in sins, whether original or voluntary sins, sins of ignorance, or sins committed against knowledge; and for all the dead there died the only person who lived, that is, who had no sin whatever, in order that those who live by the remission of their sins should live, not to themselves, but to Him who died for all, for our sins, and rose again for our justification, that we believing in Him who justifies the ungodly, and being justified from ungodliness or quickened from death, may be able to attain to the first resurrection which now is. 

For in this first resurrection none have a part save those who shall be eternally blessed; but in the second, of which He goes on to speak, all, as we shall learn, have a part, both the blessed and the wretched. The one is the resurrection of mercy, the other of judgment. – St. Augustine (see Jn. 5:28,29.)

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love… Col. 1:13 NKJV

Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such, the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. Rv. 20:6 NKJV

After the 1000 years have elapsed, the devil is loosed, whereupon he seduces those outside of the church to make war against Christ and His followers. Thank God, the devil and his minions lose this final battle in a big way and are devoured by divine fire.

We have now come to the end of time, the day of the LORD, judgment day. Those citizens of the now eternal city of God are not subject to a ‘second resurrection,’ but enter into their eternal promise with their new immortal, incorruptible bodies, living on a new earth, resting in new heavens, in the city of God, New Jerusalem, which has come down from heaven.

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not come to mind. Be glad and rejoice in whatever I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, and her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people; the voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, nor the voice of crying.” Is. 65:17 – 19. NKJV

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, arrayed like a bride adorned for her husband; and then I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “See! The tabernacle of God is among men, and He will live among them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them [as their God,] and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there will no longer be sorrow and anguish, or crying, or pain; for the former order of things has passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Rv. 21:2 – 5. AMP

Now they themselves, when they have been purified, shall be sacrifices of complete and perfect righteousness; for what more acceptable offering can such persons make to God than themselves? – St. Augustine

Unfortunately, those who have steadfastly rejected the Father and the Son, are resurrected for a second time – to judgment, damned to the ‘second death.’ They do not get incorruptible bodies, but rise with bodies that are changed in such a way that they cannot truly die, but must suffer eternal anguish:

“For just as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, will remain before me” – this is the LORD’s declaration – “so you offspring and your name will remain. All mankind will come to worship me…they will see the dead bodies of those who have rebelled against me; for their worm will never die, their fire will never go out, and they will be a horror to all mankind.” Is. 66:22 – 24. CSB

Yes, this is the final judgment, where everyone meets Jesus:

For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment [that is, the prerogative of judging] to the Son [placing it entirely into His hands]… Jn. 5:22 AMP

It is at this point that the two cities are finally separated into two distinct final destinies: the city of God to heaven on earth, and the city of earth (now the city of the devil), to Satan’s damnation. How does that look? We’ll take a look see next time…

Goodnight and God bless. 

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Journey to Heaven – part 4

In the previous 3 parts of this 4-part series, we have considered some of the obstacles that can deter us from the completion of our heavenly trek: willful rebellion against God’s ways, eternal death for those same folks that practice unrepentant rebellion, and a focus on the flesh rather than the spirit, which is always rooted in pride. Jesus summed up the way to get past all of that, as well as the urgency in which it must be done:

“Repent [change your inner self – your old way of thinking, regret past sins, live your life in a way that proves repentance; seek God’s purpose for your life], for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Mt. 4:17 AMP

The ‘kingdom of heaven’ is biblically the same as the ‘kingdom of God.’ It is a spiritual kingdom, an inner kingdom that can only be entered through one’s change of heart, (through earnest repentance and choosing Christ as your Savior) – a spiritual state to be lived out on this earth. It is a kingdom of God’s children: a family dedicated to forwarding that kingdom by lovingly offering it to as many other potential recipients as possible.

Yet, it is also a kingdom that we aspire to spend eternity in, when we transition from our life on this present earth to our heavenly destiny. So, the kingdom lives in the present, and at the same time there awaits an eternal manifestation of the same for all of God’s children:

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

It’s going to be a good thing because Jesus has already made preparations for your transition:

“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. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to My self, that where I am, there you may be also” Jn. 14:2, 3. NASB

And again, Christ presses upon us the urgency to be rightly positioned with God immediately; because if we don’t do this before we take our last breath or before Jesus returns (whichever comes first), we will have lost our ticket to eternity:

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only…Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Mt. 24:36 & 44. NKJV

And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 Jn. 2:17 ESV

…having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. Rm. 5:9 NASB

On the ‘Last Day’ of time, God will pour His wrath upon all the people who rejected Him and His Son – not due to an act of heartless vengeance, but as a result of a forced ‘sifting’ of His children away from the rebels, because as the God of Truth, He must mete out His word. The people have been lovingly warned by Him for thousands of years…

For those who chose to remain on their journey to heaven, there will be a vast holy city called ‘New Jerusalem’ for all the saints to dwell in with their Creators (God and Son) – located on a new idyllic paradise of a new earth suspended in a transformed cosmos. (Ps. 102:25 – 27; Is. 65:17 – 19; 2 Pt. 3:12, 13; Rv. 21:1 – 7 & 22 – 27.)

And it will be awesome:

“The LORD has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil…a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zeph. 3:15 & 17. ESV

Furthermore, we 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

And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man…For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 1 Cor. 15:49 & 53. NKJV

And in that heaven, there shall be peace, joy and every need fulfilled and exceeded:

Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they train for war. Each of them will sit under his vine and under his fig tree, with no one to make them afraid, for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken. Mic. 4:3, 4. NASB

“They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Rv. 7:16, 17. ESV

So, what is the bottom line? If you accept Christ as your Savior and live out a godly life to the best of your ability, (confessing and repenting when you slip), God wipes away all strikes against you, you get a grace-filled journey to eternity, get fitted with a perfect immortal body in the likeness of Christ, live eternally in peace and joy with all the children of God throughout the ages, and get to bask in the glory of the Father and the Son.

All God asks of us is to keep our eyes on the prize…

Goodnight and God bless.

God Calls You to Further His Kingdom

I don’t know how He’s going to do that for you, or what part God will want you to play; but call you He will…

Way back in antiquity, the earthly reflection of God’s kingdom was in tatters:

The Lord saw that the wickedness (depravity) of man was great on the earth, and that every imagination or intent of the thoughts of his heart were only evil continually. Gn. 6:5 AMP

God’s initial thought was to wipe the earth clean of His wayward creations, and have a do-over. Yet God loved them so much that He decided to scan the planet to see if He could find anyone who might help Him further His kingdom. He still does this today:

God looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. Ps. 53:2 NKJV

Fortuitously for us, He found one:

Noah was a righteous man [one who was just and had right standing with God], blameless in his [evil] generation; Noah walked (lived) [in habitual fellowship] with God. Gn. 6:9 AMP

This would infer that it helps us to be prepared for and active in our walk with God to be available for advancing His kingdom. Thank God, that Noah was available, giving God a vehicle (through Noah’s obedience) to give mankind a second chance to populate that same kingdom.

God called on Noah to build an ark to house him, his wife, his three sons and their wives, and a male and female of every living species of animal. Why? Because God said He’s going to flood the earth – an event that wouldn’t happen for another 120 years!

The inhabitants of the earth at that time had never witnessed such a phenomenon. Can you imagine the ridicule Noah and his family must have had thrust upon them by anyone who had met them during this construction period? In explaining their actions, they would have responded by effectively preaching the word of God – even if the hearers rejected it. How did Noah respond?

By faith [with confidence in God and His word] Noah, being warned by God about events not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his family. By this [act of obedience] he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness which comes by faith. Heb. 11:7 AMP

So, we also see that having faith in God, is necessary for us to be candidates for furthering His kingdom. The fact that you and I are here, is testimony of Noah’s right preparation and actions in advancing God’s purpose.

Ten generations after Noah, God called upon Abraham to enlarge His kingdom:

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing…and in you all of the families will be blessed.” Gn. 12:1 – 3. ESV

This is an enormous test of faith. God is telling Abraham to take his wife, his nephew and a few of his servants, and leave all that he’s ever known – to make a 1500-mile trek to Canaan, a land that he’s never seen, to be part of God’s seminal nation, to propagate it. Mind you, he and his wife were in their 70’s, but Abraham takes God at His word, i.e. exercising more of that kingdom-advancing faith.

Abraham, who is considered the biblical paragon of faith, did waiver in his faith a few times, but he always got back on track. This should give us encouragement, knowing that God will strengthen our faith (if we ask Him to) so that we can transcend our shortcomings.

There was also the matter of Abraham’s promised child. He waited 25 years for that promise to be fulfilled. Like Abraham, we too need to keep faith in that God is using our efforts to promote His plan, knowing that we have no idea when we will see the fruits of our labor.

Now, let’s consider Moses. He had escaped Egypt to flee the wrath of Pharaoh, settling into a new life as a sheepherder in what is now modern-day Saudi Arabia.  As you know, one day Moses is out tending his sheep when God manifests Himself to him as a burning bush; and He charges him with the task of freeing His children from the Pharaoh’s oppression and leading them to the Promised Land.

Moses immediately lets fear lead him to resist God’s imperative. He wails about what He should do if the people don’t believe that he is representing God. God in turn displays miracles for Moses to convince him of His power, as a demonstration of what He will do through Moses, to convince His children.

Unconvinced, Moses pleads with God to send someone else because he is not a good public speaker. God tells Moses that He will teach him how to be. Moses still doubts, and God grants him a slight concession by sending Moses’ older brother Aaron to speak for Him.

What is God doing? He is equipping Moses with the skills and power to accomplish His purpose. God takes this frightened sheepherder and transforms him into a leader, who, through God, frees His children, performs a plethora of miracles while leading them to the Promised Land, and Holy Spirit-inspires Moses to write the first five books of the Bible.

God worked all of this through someone who was deathly afraid of answering God’s call. There are several other examples of this in the Bible, but I believe we have a good picture by now. The question is, ‘Will you answer God when He calls?’

We’ve seen that God can use anyone, at any age, with whatever fears they may have, to accomplish His kingdom purposes. One reason that is possible is that God has already equipped us to do so:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Eph. 2:10 NKJV

We are all part of God’s plan. He makes sure that we are up to whatever task He assigns to us. Still, to best serve God, we must prepare our awareness, so that we can hear His summons. We do that by becoming intimately related with Him through His word:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Tim. 3:16, 17. NKJV

God would never ask you to walk a path (your part in His plan) that you could not traverse to attain His end goal. He will supply the faith that you need through His Son (Heb. 12:2); and through Christ, He will give you every skill and power to make it happen. (Phil. 4:13).

God will call each and every one of us. It may be at a time or in such a way as we never would have guessed; it may be a task that seems overwhelming, or what appears to be simple yet vital for the completion of the kingdom of God. And if we keep our spiritual eyes and ears open, we can be ready when He calls…

“Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther. 4:14 NKJV

Goodnight and God bless.