Life is all about Choices.

choose the BestMany times we pray God to lead us according to His will. Life is all about choosing a choice among many choices available around us. Choosing a ‘Right Choice’ is most important. Here Right Choice is described as the will of God. Starting from the age of making decisions independently, till our last minute on the Earth, God has given Freedom to every human being to choose a choice in every aspect. God never intervenes until we sought for His help. It was not His will to determine our every action. Sometimes we choose a Right Choice, which pleases God and sometimes we choose the other choice which satisfies us and dissatisfies Lord. When we are confused, we pray God to help us choose the Right Choice. Ultimately, for every act of ours on the earth, we are answerable to God on the Judgment Day.

The Bible tells us that God created everything, including humanity, because it pleased Him to create for His glory (Romans 11:36;Revelation 4:11). When God made the universe, He did what pleased Himself, and since God is perfect in His goodness, His love, His righteousness, and His wisdom, we may be certain that God enjoyed creating mankind without flaw in all these ways. So, when He finished creating the cosmos, the world, and man, God said, “It is very good” (Genesis 1:31). This means that it gave God pleasure and it brought Him glory to create man and woman. By doing so, He demonstrated His creative genius in making not only the universe, but its highest personal being, man (Genesis 1:26-28). “All things were created by him and for him” (Colossians 1:16).

When God created mankind, He had very clear idea and specific purpose in His mind. Genesis 1:26 declares that God created man in His image. Being made in the “image” or “likeness” of God means we do not resemble God in the sense of God being flesh and blood as we are, because God is spirit (John 4:24) and He therefore exists without a flesh-and-blood body. One way in which Adam’s body did mirror God’s is that it was created in perfect health, sinless and not subject to death.

God created Adam first. God loved him so much. God wants Adam to experience His Love and in turn God wants Adam to Love him. Unless Adam knows what Love is, he cannot love God. To teach what Love is, God created Eve. God made the first woman because He understood Adam’s need for the company of another human being like himself. Being alone is not good for man (Genesis 2:18). All human relationships—marriage, friendship, Christian fellowship—demonstrate the fact that we are made in the likeness of God. Just as the three Persons of the trinity share perfect social communion with one another, so do we desire social interaction with others of our species. God gave them Freedom, because God loved them so much. Love without Freedom is imperfect.

God also wanted man to help Him care for the beautiful world that He had created as the place for these special people to live. “God said to them, “Rule (watch over, or care for) the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 1:28,2:15).They were put in a place perfectly designed for their personalities. All their needs were met; they had companionship and communion with God. A beautiful garden specially made to bring joy and fulfillment, a tree in the middle of a garden (Genesis 2:9). Adam and Eve were surrounded by food. They had everything they needed.

In the midst of a forest of fruit trees and playful animals and beauty, God put the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden to give Adam and Eve a choice to obey Him or disobey Him. Adam and Eve were free to do anything they wanted, except eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:16-17, “And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” If God had not given Adam and Eve the choice, they would have essentially been machines, simply doing what they were programmed to do. God created Adam and Eve to be “free” beings, able to make decisions, able to choose between good and evil. In order for Adam and Eve to truly be free, they had to have a choice. But God never intervened in their thoughts and actions. At last, they chose a wrong choice.

Adam and Eve disobeyed and sinned against God. The moment Adam and Eve sinned against God, their souls were separated from God, and their bodies began to die. They lost eternal life, were expelled from the Garden of Eden, and eventually experienced physical death. Their spiritual deadness and susceptibility to physical death have been passed on to all humanity (Romans 5:12). With the fall of mankind because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, that aspect of our likeness to God ended. Sin entered the world and along with it, sickness, disease and death.

When Adam made the choice to rebel against his Creator, the image of God within mankind was marred, and Adam passed that damaged likeness on to all his descendants (Romans 5:12). Today, we still bear the image of God, but that image has been distorted by sin. Mentally, morally, socially, and physically, we show the effects of sin.

God did not want Adam and Eve to sin. God knew ahead of time what the results of sin would be. God knew that Adam and Eve would sin and would thereby bring evil, suffering, and death into the world. Why, then, did God allow Satan to tempt Adam and Eve? God, probably might have been allowed Satan to tempt Adam and Eve to force them to make the choice. Adam and Eve chose, of their own free will, to disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit. The results—evil, sin, suffering, sickness, and death—have plagued the world ever since. Adam and Eve’s decision results in every person being born with a sin nature, a tendency to sin. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is Eternal Life (Romans 6:23).

God does not want human beings to perish, but He wants us to be with him and spend eternity with him because God loved us so much. We are His creation. So, He sent his one and only son to save this world (John 3:16). Adam and Eve’s decision is what ultimately required Jesus Christ to die on the cross and shed His blood on our behalf. God has chosen to offer the hope of redemption to mankind, a redemption that is only available by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior from the sin that separates us from God (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Through faith in Christ, we can be free from sin’s consequences, and ultimately free from sin itself. The Apostle Paul in Romans 7:24-25 says, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Therefore, a decision made by Adam or the sinful choice he chose separated him from God and passed on to all humanity. Now, it’s our choice to choose Jesus Christ as our saviour and have Faith in Him, which unites us with God. Through Christ, we are made new creations in the likeness of God (2 Corinthians 5:17), and by faith in Him, we once again become partakers of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) and once again more accurately reflect His image.

                                                                                                              –Clement Zakkam

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What is the meaning of Life?

In our humanistic culture, people pursue many things, thinking that in them they will find meaning. Some of these pursuits include business success, wealth, good relationships, sex, entertainment, and doing good to others. People have testified that while they achieved their goals of wealth, relationships, and pleasure, there was still a deep void inside, a feeling of emptiness that nothing seemed to fill.

The author of the biblical book of Ecclesiastes describes this feeling when he says, “Meaningless! Meaningless! …Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). King Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes, had wealth beyond measure, wisdom beyond any man of his time or ours, hundreds of women, palaces and gardens that were the envy of kingdoms, the best food and wine, and every form of entertainment available. He said at one point that anything his heart wanted, he pursued. And yet he summed up “life under the sun”—life lived as though all there is to life is what we can see with our eyes and experience with our senses—is meaningless. Why is there such a void? The answer could be God created us for something beyond what we can experience here on the earth. Solomon said of God, “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

In Genesis, the first book of the Bible, we find that God created mankind in His image (Genesis 1:26). This means that we are more like God than we are like anything else (any other life form). We also find that before mankind fell into sin and the curse of sin came upon the earth, the following things were true: 1) God made man a social creature (Genesis 2:18-25); 2) God gave man work (Genesis 2:15); 3) God had fellowship with man (Genesis 3:8); and 4) God gave man dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:26). What is the significance of these things? God intended for each of these to add to our fulfillment in life, but all of these (especially man’s fellowship with God) were adversely affected by man’s fall into sin and the resulting curse upon the earth (Genesis 3).

In Revelation, the last book of the Bible, God reveals that He will destroy this present earth and heavens and usher in the eternal state by creating a new heaven and a new earth. At that time, He will restore full fellowship with redeemed mankind, while the unredeemed will have been judged unworthy and cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15). The curse of sin will be done away with; there will be no more sin, sorrow, sickness, death, or pain (Revelation 21:4). God will dwell with them, and they shall be His sons (Revelation 21:7). Thus, we come full circle: God created us to have fellowship with Him, man sinned, breaking that fellowship, God restores that fellowship fully in the eternal state. To go through life achieving everything only to die separated from God for eternity would be worse than futile! But God has made a way to not only make eternal bliss possible (Luke 23:43) but also life on earth satisfying and meaningful. How is this eternal bliss and “heaven on earth” obtained?

Meaning of life restored through Jesus Christ
Real meaning in life, both now and in eternity, is found in the restoration of the relationship with God that was lost with Adam and Eve’s fall into sin. That relationship with God is only possible through His Son, Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12;John 1:12;14:6). Eternal life is gained when we repent of our sin (no longer want to continue in it) and Christ changes us, making of us new creations, and we rely on Jesus Christ as Savior.

Real meaning in life is not found only in accepting Jesus as Savior, as wonderful as that is. Rather, real meaning in life is when one begins to follow Christ as His disciple, learning of Him, spending time with Him in His Word, communing with Him in prayer, and in walking with Him in obedience to His commands.

Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10b). “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25). “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

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Do not forsake the teachings of your Mother – Please the Lord!

As soon as May second Sunday approaches, People search for a nice gift article shop to buy a good gift in order to express love for their dearest Mother. Flowers, candies, gifts, mementos, what not, we don’t even hesitate to buy most valuable things, precious metals like Gold, platinum. Because the one to whom we are going to present our valuable gift is our Mother. She gave birth to us. We give gifts to make our dear mother happy on Mother’s day. So far, so good. But does it make Mother happy throughout the year with the valuable gifts we give on that particular day which comes once in a year? How can we make our mothers day greetings more pleasing? What exactly makes her happy?

Bible says Children are the gift of God for the parents (Psalm 127:3). Mother expects nothing from their children rather she comforts and cares for her children. “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you …” (Isaiah 66:13). Let us see in biblical perspective what gift can we give to our mother.

One of the most valuable gifts we can give is by ‘listening to the teachings of our mother’.

Proverbs 6:20-23 says, “My son, observe the commandment of your father and do not forsake the teaching of your mother; bind them continually on your heart; tie them around your neck. When you walk about, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk to you.” 

Father commands but mother teaches patiently. Mother cares for their children. Her teachings guide us when we walk and watches when we sleep. So God instructs us “not to forsake the teaching of mother”. As we grew up, Sometimes we say, “Ma (Mother), I know what to do and what not to do. No need to teach me.” No matter what position we are in, how much knowledge we gain, we should obey her teachings because she cares for us. Her intention is to guide us in right path. It goes vain even if you buy her most valuable gifts and forsake her teachings.

If we obey the teachings of our mother, this not only pleases her, but also pleases our Lord.  It is written in Colossians 3:20, Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

God himself instructed us to obey the teachings of Mother. So we must obey God by obeying to the teachings of our Mother. God is the one who woven us in our mother’s womb.

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
 (Psalms 139:13)

Another valuable gift one can give to their mother is ‘Honoring’. We can see the first commandment with promise in Exodus 20:12Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long…” This is one of the Ten Commandments and the most promising one. The only way to make our days long on the earth is by honoring parents. On contrary to this God also warns to children who disobeys and curses their parents. Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death (Exodus 21:17).

Therefore, as a child we must obey to our Mother and as a grown up Son and daughter we must Honor our Mother. This is what the Almighty God commands us. This makes our Mother happy throughout her life. Material gifts may temporarily give pleasure but they are useless unless we ‘Obey’ and ‘Honor’ our Mother. I wish you obey and Honor Mom and make her day. Happy Mother’s Day!

                                                                                                                            –Clement Zakkam

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Having a desire to depart and be with Christ.

Paul’s Introduction:

Paul introduces himself as a person who is very humble, acting according to the will of God, with a burden of gospel, withstands for tribulations and persecutions for the sake of Christ the Savior and the Redeemer.

This is how Paul introduces himself to the churches in his letters to Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. He says, “I am Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle by the will of God, separated unto the gospel of God, prisoner of Jesus Christ.”

Though Paul was not one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ, He was the last one who saw Jesus. He saw Jesus directly. “And last of all he was seen of me also…” Paul himself confirms this in 1 Cor 15:8 and also 1 Cor 9:1. He experienced the power of Jesus Christ. So he says,

“For I am in a strait betwixt two, having the desire to depart and to be with Christ; for it is very far better” (Philippians 1:23).

Why Paul desires to depart and wants to be with God? Or Why He doesn’t want to live on the earth and wants to be with God in Heaven? Or why he prefers death to life?

If anyone wants to be with God, He has to die. In general sense, human point of view, death is very painful. Death is a great loss. Yes, in death we lose everything. Death is the worst thing that happens to every human being. Death is inevitable. Death is the universal sentence of God against mankind for sin.

Death through Adam, life through Christ:

The Lord God commanded the man, “…you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:15-17)

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.  So that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:12-20).

See how our God is able to turn the worst into the best! Our Lord Jesus defeated death with death! O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (1 Corinthians 15:55). Now all of we, the believers of Jesus Christ no longer fear death but on the contrary, we rejoice and eagerly await the future.

The most horrible event that ever happened in the history of the world was the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus.

The most excellent event that ever happened in the history of the world was the resurrection of our Lord Jesus.

What is death to the Christians or Born-again believers in Christ? Here are few perspectives of believers regarding death:

Death brings us into the immediate presence of God. (Philippians 1:23)

Death reconciles us with all of God’s faithful children in times past, including our own saved loved ones. (Matthew 8:11)

Death ends the worst of all evils; sinning. Death delivers us from the troubles of this life (Romans 7:24-25).

So, for those who are in Christ, Death is gain. Death is not loss. Death is not destruction. But death is, in fact, benefit. Death is profit. Death is to our (who are in Christ) advantage.

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Gold ‘n’ Biblical Thoughts

How God sees Silver and Gold? Let us examine in biblical perspective.

Gold & Silver are very precious metals and stands for purity. Besides this Bible says, they are perishable, do not last for long.

In the Bible, Wisdom is compared to Gold and Silver. As Gold and Silver are precious and pure, the purity is taken as a standard and compared to the word of God. Purity of Gold and Silver are also equated with the ‘genuineness of Christian faith’.

The Wealth that is found in Wisdom

The Bible says, the parameter to measure the wealth of a person is Wisdom, it is not how much gold a person possess. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. (Psalm 119:72)

Take my instruction instead of silver and knowledge rather than choice gold for wisdom is better than jewels and all that you may desire cannot compare with her. (Proverbs 8:10)

Paul says,

I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel (Acts 20:33)

 “Covet” means “to desire or long for”. Paul desires and longs to gain Christ more than anything else. He counted everything (includes Gold & Silver) as loss and rubbish.

 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:8).

Things that can not satisfy

Do you know how much Gold and Silver does Solomon possess? Read Solomon’s great wealth in 1 Kings 10:14-27. It was this man, who said,

He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 5:10)

Silver and gold do not satisfy the Human heart. How much silver and gold will a man be able to carry away with him after death?

As he came from his mother’s womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand. (Ecclesiastes 5:15)

Therefore, I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold. (Psalm 119:127)

“Fine gold” refers to refined gold or pure gold. To purify gold and silver, the metals are melted by fire in a furnace, and then the impurities (called dross) are removed from the surface of the molten metal. God’s Word is perfectly pure and is compared to highly refined silver.

The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. (Psalm 12:6)

God often puts the believer into the furnace of testing and trials so that we might be purified.  When it comes to testing, trails and sufferings we should remember Job.

Job is superlatively righteous and a man of personal integrity: “That man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1). As a result he is blessed by God with all good things that would give him a happy and meaningful life. A faithful wife, many obedient children, true friends, number of relatives, riches in plenty(cattle, property, slaves), honour in society and good health.

Job was tested. But he did not know it. This made his suffering all the more and intense. All of a sudden Job’s world began to crumble and a series of calamities rained down upon him in a single day. He was reduced to utter poverty. He was deprived of his children. He became a man without future and his name was destined to blotted out from the face of the earth. Moreover he was stricken by a deadly and humiliating disease and he endured unbearable physical pain (Job 2:7-8).

Physical death was already at work in his flesh. Now social death is added. His sympathetic and supportive wife distances herself from him (Job 2:9-10). All his relatives and acquaintances desert him. The catastrophe is total. Everything worthwhile in life has been taken away from him. The most blessed on earth has now become the accursed of all.

Having been deprived of all but his bare existence, Job immediately went into mourning according to the customs of his time (Job 1:20-21). However it was not just an expression of grief, but an act of surrender and submission to God. He did not curse God as Satan had predicted (Job 1:11; 2:5), or as his wife had suggested (Job 2:9). Instead he blessed him as he saw only God’s hand in all the events.

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and the Lord had taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

Right in the midst of great adversity he remained unbroken, persisted in his integrity. Therefore he was lifted up from the ash heap and restored to full health. The isolated one returned to his house. He was visited by his relatives and friends. His cattle and possessions were doubled and his children were given back. This complete restoration is a way of saying that Job was twice dear to God from then on. From the pit of shame and disgrace he is back on the pinnacle of immortal glory. Job represents all suffering people. See his genuineness of faith, He says:

But He knows the way that I take when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold (Job 23:10).

If I have made gold my trust or called fine gold my confidence… this also would be an iniquity to be punished by the judges, for I would have been false to God above. (Job 31:24&28).

Gold is not as beautiful as it is if it did not go through fire. Though Job undergone fiery trail, he surrendered and submitted to God. He trusted God alone. He did not trust Gold or fine Gold and out of his sufferings he came out as fine gold.

so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:7)

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (1 Peter 4:12)

There is a very strict and serious warning in the last days

Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days (James 5:3).

“’They will throw their silver into the streets, And their gold will be like refuse; Their silver and their gold will not be able to deliver them In the day of the wrath of the LORD; They will not satisfy their souls, Nor fill their stomachs, Because it became their stumbling block of iniquity” ( Ezekiel 7:19).

In the first part of the verse we see the value of silver and gold becoming worthless. The most important meaning of this verse is that the gold and silver will not save us in the “day of the wrath of the Lord”— the end time. For many Christians today it has become a “stumbling block of iniquity.”

The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord will come upon the people of this earth because of their failure to put God and His ways first in their lives. This is further confirmed in Zephaniah 1:18, “Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’s wrath; But the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of His jealousy, for He will make speedy riddance of all those who dwell in the land.” Because people have committed idolatry and moved God down the priority list, God will have to take drastic measures to show them the error of their ways.

knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold,  but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot (1 Peter 1:18).

He will render to each one according to his works. (Romans 2:6) to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.

Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.  If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

The Judgment Seat of Christ does not determine whether a person goes to heaven or hell. This judgment has nothing to do with the lake of fire which is the place of eternal punishment for all who reject Jesus Christ and refuse to believe Him ( Revelation 20:14-15 and 21:8). The judgment described in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 is for believers only.  A person’s final destination is determined in this life according to whether a person receives Christ as Saviour (John 1:12) or rejects Him (John 12:48). The Judgment Seat of Christ is a judgment of the believer’s works. The believer may suffer loss of rewards but he will not suffer loss of salvation.

More to be desired are they (precepts of the Lord) than gold, even much fine gold …in keeping them there is great reward. (Psalm 19:10-11)

Beloved, it is written in Revelation 21:21, the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. The city is referred to Heaven. It means the streets of the Heaven are pure gold. So the pure gold will be under your feet in the Heaven. It is also written, But nothing unclean will ever enter it, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 21:21). One must be righteous to enter Heaven. The city will be of indescribable beauty in its total aspect (I Corinthians 2:9).

Now think how foolish it is to put our confidence in such perishable things. No matter what we have or how much of it we have, physical things cannot insure our deliverance in the end time or eternally (Matthew 16:26). Rather, we are to put God and His Way first and that will be the only thing that can save us ultimately (Proverbs 11:4).

                                                                                                                            Clement Zakkam

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The Book of Life

Revelation 20:15 declares, “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” The Book of Life is the set of names of those who will live with God forever in heaven. It is the roll of those who are saved. This Book of Life is also mentioned in Revelation 3:5;20:12; and Philippians 4:3. The same book is also called the Lamb’s Book of Life because it contains the names of those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lord Jesus (Revelation 13:8;21:27).

How can you be sure your name is written in the Book of Life? Be sure you’re saved. Repent of sin and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5). Once your name is written in the Book of Life, it is never erased (Revelation 3:5; Romans 8:37-39). No true believer should doubt his eternal security in Christ (John 10:28-30).

The Great White Throne Judgment described in Revelation 20:11-15 is a judgment for unbelievers. Since their names are not in the Book of Life, their fate is sealed, their punishment is sure.

The promise of Revelation 3:5 is clearly states that the Lord will not erase a name: “He who overcomes . . . I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life.” An overcomer is one who is victorious over the temptations, trials, and evils of this world—in other words, one who is redeemed. The saved are written in God’s registry and have the promise of eternal security.

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Hell – The bottomless pit

“Is hell real? Is hell eternal?”
It is interesting that a much higher percentage of people believe in the existence of heaven than believe in the existence of hell. According to the Bible, though, hell is just as real as heaven. The Bible clearly and explicitly teaches that hell is a real place to which the wicked/unbelieving are sent after death. We have all sinned against God (Romans 3:23). The just punishment for that sin is death (Romans 6:23). Since all of our sin is ultimately against God (Psalm 51:4), and since God is an infinite and eternal Being, the punishment for sin, death, must also be infinite and eternal. Hell is this infinite and eternal death which we have earned because of our sin.

The punishment of the wicked dead in hell is described throughout Scripture as “eternal fire” (Matthew 25:41), “unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:12), “shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2), a place where “the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:44-49), a place of “torment” and “fire” (Luke 16:23-24), “everlasting destruction” (2 Thessalonians 1:9), a place where “the smoke of torment rises forever and ever” (Revelation 14:10-11), and a “lake of burning sulfur” where the wicked are “tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10), and “The Bottomless pit” (Revelation 9:2).

The punishment of the wicked in hell is as never ending as the bliss of the righteous in heaven. Jesus Himself indicates that punishment in hell is just as everlasting as life in heaven (Matthew 25:46). The wicked are forever subject to the fury and the wrath of God. Those in hell will acknowledge the perfect justice of God (Psalm 76:10). Those who are in hell will know that their punishment is just and that they alone are to blame (Deuteronomy 32:3-5). Yes, hell is real. Yes, hell is a place of torment and punishment that lasts forever and ever, with no end. Praise God that, through Jesus, we can escape this eternal fate (John 3:16,18,36).

“Where is hell? What is the location of hell?”
Various theories on the location of hell have been put forward. A traditional view is that hell is in the center of the earth. Others propose that hell is located in outer space in a black hole. In the Old Testament, the word translated “hell” is Sheol; in the New Testament, it’s Hades (meaning “unseen”) and Gehenna (“the Valley of Hinnom”).Sheol is also translated as “pit” and “grave.” Both Sheol and Hades refer to a temporary abode of the dead before judgment (Psalm 9:17;Revelation 1:18). Gehenna refers to an eternal state of punishment for the wicked dead (Mark 9:43).

The idea that hell is below us, perhaps in the center of the earth, comes from passages such as Luke 10:15: “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell” (KJV). Also, in 1 Samuel 28:13-15, the medium of Endor sees the spirit of Samuel “coming up out of the ground.” We should note, however, that neither of these passages is concerned with the geographic location of hell. Capernaum’s being thrust “down” is probably a reference to their being condemned rather than a physical direction. And the medium’s vision of Samuel was just that: a vision.

In the King James Version, Ephesians 4:9 says that before Jesus ascended into heaven, “he also descended . . . into the lower parts of the earth.” Some Christians take “the lower parts of the earth” as a reference to hell, where they say Jesus spent the time between His death and resurrection. However, the New International Version gives a better translation: “he also descended to the lower, earthly regions.” This verse simply says that Jesus came to earth. It’s a reference to His incarnation, not to His location after death.

The notion that hell is somewhere in outer space, possibly in a black hole, is based on the knowledge that black holes are places of great heat and pressure from which nothing, not even light, can escape.

Another speculation is that the earth itself will be the “lake of fire” spoken of in Revelation 20:10-15. When the earth is destroyed by fire (2 Peter 3:10;Revelation 21:1), the theory goes, God will use that burning sphere as the everlasting place of torment for the ungodly. Again, this is mere speculation.

To sum up, Scripture does not tell us the geological (or cosmological) location of hell. Hell is a literal place of real torment, but we do not know where it is. Hell may have a physical location in this universe, or it may be in an entirely different “dimension.” Whatever the case, the location of hell is far less important than the need to avoid going there.

 

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Heaven – A Glorious place to be with christ

“Is Heaven real?”
Heaven is indeed a real place. The Bible tells us that heaven is God’s throne (Isaiah 66:1Acts 7:48-49Matthew 5:34-35). After Jesus’ resurrection and appearance on earth to His disciples, “He was taken up into heaven and sat at the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19Acts 7:55-56). “Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; He entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence” (Hebrews 9:24). Jesus not only went before us, entering on our behalf, but He is alive and has a present ministry in heaven, serving as our high priest in the true tabernacle made by God (Hebrews 6:19-208:1-2).

We are also told by Jesus Himself that there are many rooms in God’s house and that He has gone before us to prepare a place for us. We have the assurance of His word that He will one day come back to earth and take us to where He is in heaven (John 14:1-4). Our belief in an eternal home in heaven is based on an explicit promise of Jesus. Heaven is most definitely a real place. Heaven truly does exist.

When people deny the existence of heaven, they deny not only the written Word of God, but they also deny the innermost longings of their own hearts. Paul addressed this issue in his letter to the Corinthians, encouraging them to cling to the hope of heaven so that they would not lose heart. Although we “groan and sigh” in our earthly state, we have the hope of heaven always before us and are eager to get there (2 Corinthians 5:1-4). Paul urged the Corinthians to look forward to their eternal home in heaven, a perspective that would enable them to endure hardships and disappointments in this life. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

Just as God has put in men’s hearts the knowledge that He exists (Romans 1:19-20), so are we “programmed” to desire heaven. It is the theme of countless books, songs, and works of art. Unfortunately, our sin has barred the way to heaven. Since heaven is the abode of a holy and perfect God, sin has no place there, nor can it be tolerated. Fortunately, God has provided for us the key to open the doors of heaven—Jesus Christ (John 14:6). All who believe in Him and seek forgiveness for sin will find the doors of heaven swung wide open for them. May the future glory of our eternal home motivate us all to serve God faithfully and whole heartedly. “Since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is his body, and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart full of assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:19-22).

“What is Heaven like?”
Heaven is a real place described in the Bible. The word “heaven” is found 276 times in the New Testament alone. Scripture refers to three heavens. The apostle Paul was “caught up to the third heaven,” but he was prohibited from revealing what he experienced there (2 Corinthians 12:1-9).

If a third heaven exists, there must also be two other heavens. The first is most frequently referred to in the Old Testament as the “sky” or the “firmament.” This is the heaven that contains clouds, the area that birds fly through. The second heaven is interstellar/outer space, which is the abode of the stars, planets, and other celestial objects (Genesis 1:14-18).

The third heaven, the location of which is not revealed, is the dwelling place of God. Jesus promised to prepare a place for true Christians in heaven (John 14:2). Heaven is also the destination of Old Testament saints who died trusting God’s promise of the Redeemer (Ephesians 4:8). Whoever believes in Christ shall never perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

The apostle John was privileged to see and report on the heavenly city (Revelation 21:10-27). John witnessed that heaven (the new earth) possesses the “glory of God” (Revelation 21:11), the very presence of God. Because heaven has no night and the Lord Himself is the light, the sun and moon are no longer needed (Revelation 22:5).

The city is filled with the brilliance of costly stones and crystal clear jasper. Heaven has twelve gates (Revelation 21:12) and twelve foundations (Revelation 21:14). The paradise of the Garden of Eden is restored: the river of the water of life flows freely and the tree of life is available once again, yielding fruit monthly with leaves that “heal the nations” (Revelation 22:1-2). However eloquent John was in his description of heaven, the reality of heaven is beyond the ability of finite man to describe (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Heaven is a place of “no mores.” There will be no more tears, no more pain, and no more sorrow (Revelation 21:4). There will be no more separation, because death will be conquered (Revelation 20:6). The best thing about heaven is the presence of our Lord and Savior (1 John 3:2). We will be face to face with the Lamb of God who loved us and sacrificed Himself so that we can enjoy His presence in heaven for eternity.

“Will we be able to see and know our friends and family members in Heaven?”
Many people say that the first thing they want to do when they arrive in heaven is see all their friends and loved ones who have passed on before them. In eternity, there will be plenty of time to see, know, and spend time with our friends and family members. However, that will not be our primary focus in heaven. We will be far more occupied with worshiping God and enjoying the wonders of heaven. Our reunions with loved ones are more likely to be filled with recounting the grace and glory of God in our lives, His wondrous love, and His mighty works. We will rejoice all the more because we can praise and worship the Lord in the company of other believers, especially those we loved on earth.

What does the Bible say about whether we will be able to recognize people in the afterlife? King Saul recognized Samuel when the witch of En dor summoned Samuel from the realm of the dead (1 Samuel 28:8-17). When David’s infant son died, David declared, “I will go to him, but he will not return to me” (2 Samuel 12:23). David assumed that he would be able to recognize his son in heaven, despite the fact that he died as a baby. In Luke, Abraham, Lazarus, and the rich man were all recognizable after death. At the transfiguration, Moses and Elijah were recognizable (Matthew 17:3-4). In these examples, the Bible does seem to indicate that we will be recognizable after death.

The Bible declares that when we arrive in heaven, we will “be like him [Jesus]; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). Just as our earthly bodies were of the first man Adam, so will our resurrection bodies be just like Christ’s (1 Corinthians 15:47). “And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:49,53). Many people recognized Jesus after His resurrection (John 20:16,20;21:12;1 Corinthians 15:4-7). If Jesus was recognizable in His glorified body, we also will be recognizable in our glorified bodies. Being able to see our loved ones is a glorious aspect of heaven, but heaven is far more about God, and far less about us. What a pleasure it will be to be reunited with our loved ones and worship God with them for all eternity.

“What is paradise? Is it different than Heaven?”
The word paradise is used as a synonym for “heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:4;Revelation 2:7). When Jesus was dying on the cross and one of the thieves being crucified with Him asked Him for mercy, Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Jesus knew that His death was imminent and that He would soon be in heaven with His Father. Therefore, Jesus used “paradise” as a synonym for “heaven.”

What we do know for sure is that there has always been a separation of believers and unbelievers (Luke 16:19-31). The righteous have always gone to paradise; the wicked have always gone to hell (hades). For right now, both heaven (paradise) and hell (Sheol) are “temporary holding places” until the day when Jesus Christ comes back to judge the world based on whether or not they have believed in Him. The first resurrection is of believers who will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ to receive rewards based on meritorious service to Him. The second resurrection will be that of unbelievers who will stand before the Great White Throne Judgment of God. At this point, all will be sent to their eternal destination—the wicked to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15), and the righteous to a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21-22).

 

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Fear of death..?

“How to overcome the fear of death? How to stop being scared of dying?”

Even the most secure, devout believer can have occasions when they fear death. It is hard-wired into our systems to avoid death. And death was not an original part of God’s plan for His creation. We were made to be whole and holy, living in paradise in communion with Him. The introduction of death was a necessary response to the admittance of sin into the world. It is a grace that we die. If we didn’t  we would have to live in a sinful world for all eternity.

Knowing that in your head doesn’t necessarily counteract the visceral reaction to the thought of your own mortality. The fragility of our physical bodies and the sudden cessation of life are violent reminders of our lack of control in a large, dangerous world. We do have a great hope, that He Who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). And He did go to prepare a place for us so that we can join Him (John 14:2). But it might help to consider the more immediate, practical considerations we’re faced with.

Beginning with, what is the actual fear? There are several aspects of death that can potentially cause fear. Fortunately, God has an answer for each of them.

Fear of the unknown
What exactly does it feel like to die? What can you see as your life leaves your physical body? How will it come about? Is it anything like people have reported—a bright light? A group of relatives?

No one knows for certain what it feels like, but the Bible does describe what happens.2 Corinthians 5:6-8 and Philippians 1:23 say that when we leave our body, we are at home with the Lord. What a reassuring thought! We will stay in this state until Christ comes and resurrects the believers (1 Corinthians 15:20-22,6:14) when we will be given a new, glorified body.

Fear of loss of control
By the time humans reach adulthood, they have a pretty good idea how to interact with the world around them. They know how to find what they need, get to where they want to be, and interact with others in a way that fulfills their intent.

Many though, even those who profess a trust in God, are so fearful of not getting what they need that they feel they have no choice but to manipulate their surroundings and the people around them to their benefit. We have all met men and women who abuse and grasp out of fear. They don’t trust God to provide for their needs, so they take care of things themselves. They don’t trust others to give them consideration, so they demand what they think they need.

How much more they must fear the loss of control upon their deaths. As Jesus said to Peter, describing how he would die, “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go” (John 21:18). Before Peter got this warning, he denied Jesus out of fear. Directly after, he reacted by demanding to know how John was going to die. But after Jesus returned to heaven, Peter took the gift of the Holy Spirit and became a new person—one whose passion for Christ’s message far out-stripped his need to control his surroundings (Acts 5:17-42). The Holy Spirit alone gave him the strength to face whatever challenges he might face.

Fear for those left behind
The Christian view of death is “separation.” Ultimate death is separation from God. With physical death, we will be separated from our loved ones on Earth for a time. If they are also Christians, we know that the separation will be a short blink of an eye compared to the eternity we’ll spend with them in heaven. If they are not Christians, that will not be the case. Our commission, then, becomes to use this time together to talk to them about where they will go when they die. Ultimately, however, the decision rests with them. Just as God gives them the room to choose, we must also.

Fear of the act of dying
Few of us know how we will die. Quick and painless, in our sleep, a long drawn out illness—the mystery of it, the inability to prepare, can be frightening. If we do know, if we’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness, it can still be scary.

But it is only a moment. A moment nearly everyone has gone through or will go through. And, when that moment is over, we can claim Philippians 3:20-21: “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

Often, being informed and actively participating can help assuage fear. You can take steps to prepare yourself and those around you.

Overcoming the fear of death – Practical steps
Many people believe they shouldn’t die because they have too much to live for. Often, this means they have responsibilities and unfinished business that wouldn’t be taken care of if they were gone. But having people and things you are responsible for won’t keep you from dying if it’s your time. Doing what you can to make sure they’re seen to can alleviate fear.

If you have a business or children or other dependents, consider their care. Decide who will take over your role and work with that person to come up with a plan. Look into a will or a trust. Make sure all of your necessary paperwork is organized and easy to find. Reconcile broken relationships before you’re unable to. But don’t live for dying. There’s a difference between taking reasonable steps and obsessing.

Overcoming the fear of death – Physical steps
If you have strong feelings about what you want to happen to you should you become incapacitated, express them now. It’s entirely possible that during the course of an illness or injury, you’ll lose control over the situation and be unable to make your wishes known. Get a living will. Let those closest to you know what you want—or at least tell them where it’s written down. Choose someone you trust to be authorized to make decisions for you should you become unable.

Overcoming the fear of death – Spiritual steps
These are all steps to keep up responsibilities or maintain a measure of control in the worldly realm, but they don’t get to the meat of the matter. The most important thing to remember regarding death is the truth about life. You love your family and care for them, but God loves them more. You may worry about your Earthly legacy, but God’s more concerned with a kingdom perspective. All the paperwork in the world won’t bring the peace of mind of once simple action: abide.

In the middle of living this life, with these people, in this world, it’s difficult to keep in mind that this is just a temporary condition, and not a very good one at that.1 John 2:15-17 says, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” How we remember this is by abiding (1 John 2:24). Staying in the truth of His Word, believing what He says about us and the world around us, will give us the proper perspective regarding this life and the one we will receive.

When we are able to keep that kingdom perspective, we’ll be able to fulfill 1 John 3:1-3: “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are, for this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” It will be so evident that we do not belong in this world that others will see it, too. We will so take ownership of our position as children of God that we will actively seek the day we can be like Christ and see Him as He is.

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Is there Life after Death?

“Is there life after death?”

The existence of life after death is a universal question. Job speaks for all of us by stating, “Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He springs up like a flower and withers away; like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure….If a man dies, will he live again?” (Job 14:1-2,14). Like Job, all of us have been challenged by this question. Exactly what happens to us after we die? Do we simply cease to exist? Is life a revolving door of departing and returning to earth in order to eventually achieve personal greatness? Does everyone go to the same place, or do we go to different places? Is there really a heaven and hell?

The Bible tells us that there is not only life after death, but eternal life so glorious that “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, came to the earth to give us this gift of eternal life. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus took on the punishment that all of us deserve and sacrificed His life to pay the penalty for our sin. Three days later, He proved Himself victorious over death by rising from the grave. He remained on the earth for forty days and was witnessed by hundreds before ascending to heaven.Romans 4:25says, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”

The resurrection of the Christ is a well-documented event. The apostle Paul challenged people to question eyewitnesses for its validity, and no one was able to contest its truth. The resurrection is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. Because Christ was raised from the dead, we can have faith that we, too, will be resurrected. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the ultimate proof of life after death. Christ was only the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again. Physical death came through one man, Adam, to whom we are all related. But all who have been adopted into God’s family through faith in Jesus Christ will be given new life (1 Corinthians 15:20-22). Just as God raised up Jesus’ body, so will our bodies be resurrected upon Jesus’ return (1 Corinthians 6:14).

Although we will all be eventually resurrected, not everyone will go to heaven. A choice must be made by each person in this life, and this choice will determine one’s eternal destination. The Bible says that it is appointed for us to die only once, and after that will come judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Those who have been made righteous by faith in Christ will go into eternal life in heaven, but those who reject Christ as Savior will be sent to eternal punishment in hell (Matthew 25:46). Hell, like heaven, is not simply a state of existence, but a literal place. It is a place where the unrighteous will experience never-ending, eternal wrath from God. Hell is described as a bottomless pit (Luke 8:31;Revelation 9:1) and a lake of fire, burning with sulfur, where the inhabitants will be tormented day and night forever and ever (Revelation 20:10). In hell, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, indicating intense grief and anger (Matthew 13:42).

God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but desires them to turn from their wicked ways so that they can live (Ezekiel 33:11). But He will not force us into submission; if we choose to reject Him, He accepts our decision to live eternally apart from Him. Life on earth is a test, a preparation for what is to come. For believers, life after death is eternal life in heaven with God. For unbelievers, life after death is eternity in the lake of fire. How can we receive eternal life after death and avoid an eternity in the lake of fire? There is only one way—through faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die…” (John 11:25-26).

The free gift of eternal life is available to all. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him” (John 3:36). We will not be given the opportunity to accept God’s gift of salvation after death. Our eternal destination is determined in our earthly lifetimes by our reception or rejection of Jesus Christ. “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). If we trust the death of Jesus Christ as the full payment for our sin against God, we are guaranteed not only a meaningful life on earth, but also eternal life after death, in the glorious presence of Christ.

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