Dr. Tony Evans is the pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas. He also is the founder of The Urban Alternative. Dr. Evans holds the honor of writing and publishing the first full-Bible commentary and study Bible by an African American. His radio broadcast, The Alternative, can be heard on over 1,400 radio outlets daily and in more than 130 countries. His sermons are Biblically sound and he “walks the walk,” not just talks the talk. Here is a man of God worth noting for how Father has used him to teach thousands of believers how to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. This is a sharing of a recent email he sent to his contacts, which is adapted from one of his more than 100 books.
Most people think money is the secret to satisfaction. They think that happiness equates to how much money you’ve got at your disposal. But happiness has nothing to do with money. Money isn’t about to solve your problems. In fact, sometimes our problems escalate as our money increases — not the other way around.
That’s why Paul wrote, “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:10).
There are so many things money can’t buy. Money can’t buy health. It can’t buy relational harmony. It can’t buy respect, honor, character or esteem. When things go south in any of those areas, if money is all you’ve got working for you, you’ll discover the actual value of money. You’ll learn that money isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. There’s so much that matters more than how much money you have in your wallet or your bank account. But it’s very easy to forget that.
As a result, people frequently spend their energy praying for stuff when God wants to give them more than stuff. He wants to give significance, strength, stability and identity. All the stuff in the world doesn’t amount to much if you are so broken, empty or alone that you cannot enjoy it, and you don’t have anyone with whom to share it. Stuff never made anyone smile the way that satisfaction, purpose and even service can. Our world focuses on stuff, while Jesus reminds us what matters most.
“Religious beliefs are very controversial and there are tons of religious groups. The more I care about is to live peacefully and consciously. The truth can be found within your heart and your divine formless aspects…”
I, too, hope you have a peaceful life. As I noted in reply to your blog, 2+2=4 but the one who answers 5 is closer to the truth than the one who answers 37. There is much that is true in the sayings of Buddha, Confucius, Lao Tzu, Aristotle, Plato and other philosophers. There is much one can learn by reading the four Vedas of Hinduism, the Gathas of Zoroaster, the Agam literature of Jainism and the Muslim’s Quran. Even the Book of Mormon and the Satanic Bible have rules, many of which can help someone live a good life (though I do not recommend any of these until one has a clearer understanding of the Bible).
Buddha and the other philosophers never claimed to be religious. They simply described how to improve one’s life by various means of self-discipline and learning. The religious literature all show ways that one can reach Nirvana, mystical absorption into the Infinite or find acceptance by God. The answers to 2+2 vary in accuracy from 5 or 6, or in the case of Mormonism 37, and in the Satanic Bible 5,489! 😨
The apostle Paul said to “test everything; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). So there is nothing wrong with reading or studying teachings of philosophy and religion, but there is much “testing” that needs to be done when one reads these texts. They are not all good and at best will only give one a better life here and now, if that is all for which one is looking.
However, I genuinely fear for people looking for answers in religion. They will find at the end of this life that they have been deceived. The Bible has very little to say about religion (check an online resource for how rarely it is mentioned), and Jesus had his biggest problems with the religious leaders of his day. In fact, it was the chief priest and the religious legislative body, the Sanhedrin, that first condemned Jesus to death before handing Him over to the Romans. The Romans did not allow the Jews to commit capital punishment (though this was disobeyed at times with stoning [see Acts 7]). Unless it interfered with Roman governance, they tended to disregard anything the Sanhedrin or the Jewish leaders did.
Recognize first what constitutes “religion.” In dictionary.com’s definition, the operative phrase is that it “usually involves devotional and ritual observances, and often contains a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.” Thus religion is basically the human attempt to do what is right, and the popular view, even among many “Christians” is that this is what will make one okay in God’s eyes. To summarize, religions are human attempts to please God.
Being a Christ-follower does not mean I am not religious, but it means that religion is a very minor part of life. The central issue of following Jesus is to know Him as one knows a friend or brother. This can be difficult to get our heads around, because we cannot see Jesus in His flesh as we would our local friends or relatives. But that is where becoming “born again” comes in. Jesus told a good Pharisee that in order to enter the Kingdom of God he had to be born again.
The old man had some difficulty getting his head around this concept as well. It is not just taking on a different point of view or disciplining oneself to behave differently. That would be religion, and Nicodemus knew all about religion. It was that on which he had based his life!
Jesus said that he did not need to go back into his mother’s womb and be reborn, but rather to be reborn of the Spirit of God, like a wind over which we have no control. It is a yielding of ourselves to the divine in a way that we do not fully grasp just as an infant does not understand what is happening to him when he is being born.
You say “the truth can be found within your heart and your divine formless aspects.” But Jesus’ claim is that we cannot find truth on our own because we have been deceived from our natural birth. We are condemned even before we start searching! Just as the arithmetic illustration shows, if one starts with wrong premises, one reaches wrong conclusions. If you understand 2 is simply one plus one, you can begin to add correctly. But if one does not understand the basic of what 2 IS, wrong conclusions are certain to follow.
The whole of the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to us, because He is SOOO different from us that we cannot grasp who or what He is apart from Him telling us. Like a parent cuddling his baby saying, “Hush, little one, I know what you need,” He will guide us to understand, if we begin with what He tells us about Himself. And you will not find that in religious literature, nor in yourself, because religion is simply our attempts to find God or to please Him, and we are insufficient to grasp who God is because we are NOT divine. Just as the babe does not understand who his daddy is, he must grow into that understanding by living with him.
The only place you will find peace that lasts is in knowing The God Who Is. The only place you will find The God Who Is will be in the Bible. The only way to get to know Him is through prayer. And I genuinely wish peace for you and for your beautful country. God knows you have had such strife, it is difficult to imagine it getting any worse. The peace you seek can only come with the changes in human hearts that occur when people are “born again.”
Rick Warren once said, “When someone thinks he knows all the answers, one has to wonder if he knows all the questions.”
When one goes on a date, he or she showers, puts on nice clothes, preens in front of a mirror for a while, checks to make sure teeth don’t have spinach between them, and preps their brightest smiles and best chuckles. The same goes for blogging. When we get on our computers, we take time to evaluate our words; we check for grammatical errors, examine links and think seriously about the topic: i.e., we put our best foot forward in both cases (at least most of us do!😏).
We tend to be experts when we get online, because no one can see all the background work we do to make a nice blog. We check our resources and polish the blog and show off how smart, informed, and perceptive we are. Most of us try to avoid harsh words or crass language (at least the blogs I follow; too much cursing or four-letter words and I will not follow).
Well, I am not that smart or “together” all the time. I sincerely try to be nice in my comments or just don’t comment (my mother’s words are still there in my head, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”)
But sometimes I do not “have it all together.” Depression sometimes surprises me with lonesomeness that makes me feel even the sun is dark, as if I am under a rock with no light. I make solitary time either after my bride leaves our bed, or in places where I can get away from everyone, and I cry. . . And I cry. . . And I cry some more. So many folks in my family are wonderful and I know that I am loved, but loneliness still stands over me like an angry wrestler ready to push me down and hold me to the mat even after I say, “I give up.” He won’t let me up anyway.
I am not suicidal (See ). As my brother is fond of saying, “That ship has sailed.” But many times I feel like the days are just passing me by, and I am just waiting either for Jesus to return or for Father to call me Home from this world. Depression makes you question whether anything you do matters; whether your life matters.
But the bottom line is it is not about me . . . or you. Life is about Him!
Like the man in John 9 born blind, just as we are all born spiritually blind, “Once I was blind but now I see.” As C.S.Lewis put it, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” The world, the universe, the animals, the oceans, the mountains, the people; it all makes sense when I begin with the Cross of Jesus and the Bible. Rick Warren put it this way: “You were made by God and for God and until you understand that, life will never make sense.”
In no other system, no other world leader, no other religious figure claimed to BE GOD. And if Jesus is not God, then nothing makes sense in the world, the universe or people. But sinse He IS God, it all does make sense. I was born spiritually blind and sinful. Jesus came to bear the penalty for my sin. He lived a sinless life and died an ignominious death on a mechanism for capital criminals at the hands of the Gentiles and Jews. But He rose from the dead after three days and three nights in the tomb. And now He lives to make intercession for any who will put their faith in Him. It’s ALL about Him!
I do not intend this blog to be a ‘downer,’ but just to encourage you if you are feeling low, if you feel pressed into the ground by a boulder, or if you fight with the angry wrestler who tries to push you down; perhaps you wonder about your value, your worth, whether your life matters. It DOES! You matter so much to God that He sent Jesus to the Cross! And I know that my Redeemer lives, and THAT is all that really matters.
“I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last He will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold Him, and not another’s.” Job 19:25-27
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in YHWH. Habakkuk 3:17
Let’s address a concern for many followers of Jesus, called The Christ. What is the Mark of the Beast, the significance of the “666,” how will it be done, and what are the results of taking or refusing it? If you are not a Christ-follower, I encourage you to read on, to discover what may happen in the near future.
First, the Mark of the Beast will not be called that, any more than the Beast will be called “The Beast.” It will likely be couched in pleasant sounding euphemisms, e.g. The WISE Mark (Winning Implementation of Supply and Expense) or maybe the KIND Mark (Knowledge-based International Negotiation Dividends). And The Beast will be called a Miracle Man, a Savior of Humankind, the Answer Man, the Peacemaker. He will not be an evil-looking HellBoy, but rather a typical looking world leader. But those who are aware of the Bible’s teaching will recognize him for who and what he really is: the devil incarnate, the Anti- or “Other” Christ. Keep in mind these events will unfold as repercussions of the most mysterious disappearance in history of millions of people and all babies and little children! The global chaos will be ripe for someone, anyone, who seems to know what to do.
“[The spokesman of the Beast] causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead,so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.” (Revelation 13:16-18)
As for the significance of the mystery of the number, 666, this will remain a mystery until the time it is applied. Do not let anyone fool you into thinking they have ‘discovered’ who the Beast is by matching a name to the numeric values of the Hebrew or Greek letters. This was done with transliterations for Emperor Julian, Genghis Khan, Hitler, FDR, John Kennedy, George Bush, bin Laden, Khomeini and a host of others whose candidacy for being the Anti-Christ fell into varying degrees of believability. We will not know who this “Man of Lawlessness” is until he is revealed.
How is the mark applied? It is possible it could be a bio-metric identification or a chip implant, something the angel would only have noted as a “mark.” It could be a nano-activated ink tattoo or simply a literal tattoo, maybe even 666, that would show the wearer was “cooperating” with the government to address the chaos of the missing Christ-followers. “I’m a loyal (insert any nationality). Put it big and bold right there on my forehead!”
In any case, it will not be secretly administered as some right-wing . . . umm, conservatives (note, I did notcall them “nuts” 😉) surmised in recent months. It will not be part of a vaccine or some obscure method that will fool people into getting something they do not want. It will be an open and reasonable method of accounting for your personal income, expenses, assets and debts. Everyone will be invited to participate as sensible and patriotic citizens of the world. It will simply be the way the world is working, and if you want to buy or sell, whether stocks and bonds, real estate or groceries, you will need to have an account.
The results of accepting this Mark are explicitly laid out in Revelation 14: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” So if it comes to the point that you are asked to take a Mark in order to buy or sell, just do not do that!
However, be aware that the results of refusing this Mark will be devastating as well. One will not be able to do business in any form. You will not be able to access your savings, your Social Security, your checking or any investments. You will not be allowed to purchase anything at Walmart or Costco, and forget about Amazon or Apple. The Kroger and Safeway will be out of your reach as will be any other thing that you want to buy or sell. Starvation is a slow and difficult death; ostracization by the community may be radical and murderous.
But there is an assurance in the next verses in Revelation 14: “Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!'”
Do not believe me! 😉 That is, do not take my word for this information. Read last week’s list of Bible chapters that address the End Times. At least take a couple hours and read two very short books: The Gospel of Johnand The Revelation. Each of these books should not take more than an hour or two to read in your heart language (the language in which you dream). The links are to English Standard Version (ESV), but you can select any language in the “Version Button” by selecting All and scrolling down.
So when will these things occur? Again, as noted last week, no one knows the day or the hour! So do not let anyone deceive you that they somehow have it figured out. But there are interesting developments that make these scenarios more believable.
When I was a child, Bible-prophecy preachers would speak of a united Europe to mimic the ancient Roman Empire; skeptics said this was absurd, that nationalism and language difficulties would prevent this; Europe would never be united. The preachers said money would be accessible only through a mark on your hand or forehead; again skeptics said we would never have computers powerful enough to regulate international commerce; check out Amazon’s latest development in September, 2019. The preachers said cash would be obsolete; skeptics laughed as they wanted to know how you could do business without a reserve currency; laugh no more; digital currency will soon replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency! It will be international, accessible anywhere in the world, and if it uses bio-metrics to access, perfectly (?) secure.
Recall that world events have at times occurred with the speed of a tsunami. The start of WW1, the execution of the tsar of Russia, the Communist revolution in China, the fall of the Berlin wall, literal tsunamis and natural disasters around the world: all occurred with fire-bolt speed, and the next changes in currency, political fortunes and world government will occur even faster when the Church is removed from the world like a lightning flash!
This is why I appeal to you that if you do not know where you will go at the end of your life, you CAN know! If you want to know how to escape the judgements of The God Who Is, He has made it very simple. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31) If you come face to face with the events herein described, recognize that any death from human hands is nothing compared to missing the gift of eternal life Jesus offers. My prayer for each of you reading this is that you will take this warning to heart and Be Ready.
“At this also my heart tremblesand leaps out of its place. Keep listening to the thunder of His voice and the rumbling that comes from His mouth. Under the whole heaven He lets it go, and His lightning to the corners of the earth. After it His voice roars; He thunders with His majestic voice, and He does not restrain the lightnings when His voice is heard. God thunders wondrously with His voice; He does great things that we cannot comprehend.” Job 37:1-5
Last week I presented a synopsis of events to be expected sometime soon. How soon? No one knows, and if someone claims to know, leave as wide a distance between him and you as there is between his brain and reality. Even Jesus claimed only the Father in Heaven knows the day or the hour that Jesus is to return to this earth to begin its last age.
That said, it is certain that the return of Jesus, called The Christ, is nearer than it was 2000 years ago when He left. Some surmise the history of the world is a “week” of ‘1000-year’ days. This is a very plausible theory for Young Earth theorists: 4000 years from Creation to the advent of Jesus to a virgin in Bethlehem of Judea; 2000 years of the Church Age; 1000 years of Christ’s millennial reign; concluded with God’s recreation of a New Heavens and New Earth (Revelation 21).
Since we do not know exactly the year of Jesus’ birth, this remains a possible interpretation of time for at least another 20-80 years. (This includes allowance for questions of exactly when to begin the 2000 year church age.) This would propose that we are very close to the end of time as we have known it, again though, not knowing the day or the hour, or I would point out, the year or even decade. However, given the shape of world events it is very difficult to imagine The Day waiting more than another few decades.
However, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of your investigation into these propositions! You must not depend on someone else, not even me, Martin Luther, the Pope, Joel Rosenberg, John Stott or any other to feed you with such milk. You need to examine Scripture to discover what it says. To not do so is to remain a spiritual baby, accepting “predigested milk” like infants, unable to feed themselves. There is nothing wrong with starting out as a suckling, but think of how sad we feel if we see an adult who has never learned to feed himself or clean his own bottom. Though you may be new to faith in Jesus, begin to train yourself to read the Bible. If you have been walking with Jesus for even a few years, you should be more mature and able to read the Word and apply it to your daily activities, daily ingesting the food of the Scriptures and doing what it says, praying with the understanding and in the Spirit.
So I encourage you to read the first few verses of Revelation 1:3“Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.” Do not be dissuaded by those who would say this book is too confusing or too full of symbols which must be studied in historical context. The book itself says you will be blessed if you read it or listen to its reading!
Along side of this, to understand what the Bible teaches about End Times (Eschatology), one needs to read Matthew 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 12; Ezekiel 7-8, 17, 38-39; Daniel 7-12; Joel 2; Zechariah 1-6; 1 Thessalonians 4-5; 1 Timothy 1, 4; 2 Timothy 3; 2 Peter 1-3; 1 John 2; and Jude. There are other references in the Bible to the End Times, but these are the main ones wherein it is a theme of the writing and the study of these, with Revelation, will give one a fair grasp of what we are allowed to understand of what is to come.
Please underscore this: WHEN you believe Jesus is returning is not as important as your belief that HE IS RETURNING! There are differing views on the events listed in my synopsis last week, and I make no claim to fully understand everything about these things, nor to have every detail correct. This is the best understanding to which I have come based on years of study and examination of Scripture. But faith in Jesus is not dependent on agreement on these details of eschatology.
But these things I do know! What kind of people should we be, especially as we gain understanding of God’s plan for the ages? First, love your family! (1Timothy 5:8) Next love your fellow Christ-followers! (Galatians 6:9) Then, love your neighbors, those in your subdivision, your community, your city and county. (Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:31) And then, if you are going to follow Jesus, get ready for some reeeally tough instruction: “Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you!” (Matthew 5:44)
That’s right, pray FOR bad people! Do not pray against them; do not pray for their deaths or for their destruction. Leave that up to Father; “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19, Deuteronomy 32:35)
We must pray FOR our enemies. For that politician who represents everything you voted against in the last election; for that relative who makes you feel like you want to avoid them forever; for that guy who drives like a maniac, running stop signs and racing to cut you off; for that woman who swears so terribly she makes sailors blush; for that person responsible for your loved one’s death; yes, pray for your enemy, that they will see how they have been deceived and turn from their wrong actions. This is God’s heart for His enemies: “Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the LORD God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23)
Friend, the time is short. Jesus will come back, maybe in the short few years I have left on Earth; maybe later today or tomorrow; maybe not for another decade or more. But He WILL come back, and when He does it will be too late toget ready.
This is familiar ground, if you have been following this blog. However, “to write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.” (Philippians 3:1) Some may think my urgency in addressing these issues is because I am facing my mortality in perhaps 10-15 years (more or less?). Yet, there is no denying the world is shaping up differently in our age in order of magnitudes greater than every other world-shaping event.
Allow me to give you a brief synopsis of the End-Time-Events. When these events will occur, no one knows, and the exact order of some are uncertain; they could begin to fall into place today, tomorrow, next year, 10 years from now or in the next century, and due to the format of the Prophets and Revelation, these details are unclear for good reasons. (*See below.)
So why worry about them now? First of all, do not worry! The testimony of Jesus, which is the Spirit of Prophecy (Revelation 19:10), has told us these things so we do not need to be frightened. “In the 21st century, what will make Christians distinct from the rest of the culture is not what they do or don’t do or shouldn’t do. What will make them stand out is that they won’t be afraid.” (Marilyn Elliott) But to enter the seasons of our world that will wrap out the end of this age, we need to BE READY.
In other blogs, I have noted how quickly things changed on the world scene in history. The Return of Jesus, to begin the last age of the Earth will happen extremely suddenly, like a lightning bolt, like a “thief in the night” (Matthew 24:27; 1 Thessalonians 5:2). Jesus instucted us not to “get ready,” but to BE READY. (Luke 12:40)
So here is a synopsis of End Time Events, more reliable than any Hollywood hokum.
At a time which NO ONE, not even Jesus knows (Mark 13:32), He will return to Earth and appear to those who believe in Him and “catch” them away (1Thessalonians 4:16-17). This will be an abrupt global event where every Christ-follower will be “evacuated” instantly and without warning (why we need to “BE READY”).
I suspect, but do not know, that this event will trigger world-wide chaos as huge segments of the nations’ populations will suddenly disappear. Also, all babies and the world’s youngest children will be gone! (See August 7, 2016 for my confidence of this.)
We know that this will open the door for a world leader (aka Beast) to arise from the people of Earth who will have a logical and rational explanation of this event and recommendations on how to proceed forward. Governments will be in an uproar and global war will begin, but unlike WW1 or WW2, the madness will be nations fighting locally, but everywhere.
We know the economic chaos will be immediate and prices for basic foods will skyrocket. This will bring on a global payment system, developed over 42 months, where money is digitized and one will have to have an account, registered by a “Mark” on the right palm or forehead in order to buy or sell anything. At the end of the 42 months, this will be mandated.
We know that death will be everywhere as one quarter of the remaining population on Earth will die.
We know that at the arrival of the Beast, two “witnesses” will take a stand against him and they will declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ, miraculously preserved from attacks for 42 months. Most likely, they will operate from Jerusalem. At the end of 42 months, the Beast will overpower and kill them. Their bodies will be on display in Jerusalem for three and one-half days, after which they will be miraculously revived and removed from Earth to Heaven.
We know that the Beast will lead nations in war against Israel, (suspected, but not known to be most likely a Russian-Iranian-Chinese alliance) and subdue Israel. However, in order to bring international peace, he will establish a Third Temple in Jerusalem, either in place of or along side of Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. He will convince the Arab world, descendants of Ishmael, to make peace with Israel, descendants of his half-brother, Jacob.
I suspect, but do not know, that in this conflict the Beast will be injured with a fatal wound, i.e., killed, but will still survive, which will amaze the world’s inhabitants.
We know that after 42 months, he will go into the new Temple and claim to be the Messiah, the Madhi, the Savior of the World and enter the Holiest Place, essentially declaring himself to be god.
We know that there will be a secondary leader, a “false prophet,” who will arrive at the end of the 42 months and he will perform miraculous signs, even calling down fire from the sky. He will instruct everyone to worship the Beast. He will cause “an image of the Beast” to be set up, and will make it appear to come alive. He will order anyone unwilling to worship the Beast or his image to be executed.
I suspect, but do not know, that this will be the moment when the Hebrews will recognize that Jesus was their Messiah and The God Who Is will remove them from the Earth in another “catching away” that will take them to Heaven.
We know that after the 42 months almost everyone on Earth will give allegiance to the Beast, and buying and selling will be restricted to those with an “account,” indicated by having the “Mark of the Beast” (although it will not be called that, just as “the Beast” and the “false prophet” will not be called by those titles. 🙄)
I suspect, but do not know, that the Prostitute of Revelation 17 and 18, who is hated by the Beast, is organized religion of any brand. The Beast’s claim to be god and entering the Holiest Place in the Temple is consistent with this. He will ban all religions in favor of worship of himself.
We know after the first 42 months, God’s wrath will be poured out on the rest of the Earth (except on those refusing the Mark of the Beast; these will be hunted down and executed by the false prophet’s minions). Over the next 42 months, life on Earth will be horrible, but people will not recognize that the judgments of God are intended to lead them to repentance. Instead, they will become angrier at God and curse Him, blaming Him for all their self-inflicted troubles.
We know that at the end of this second 42 months the Beast will marshal almost every army and weapon on Earth to fight against Jesus, who will appear in the sky. With simply a Word from His mouth, Jesus will destroy the armies and their weapons. The Beast and his false prophet will be thrown into an Abyss for 1000 years, the last age of this Earth.
We know that Jesus will be here on Earth for this 1000 years, ruling “with an iron scepter” along with those who take part in the first resurrection. At the end of the 1000 years, Satan, the Beast, is released for a short time to deceive the world again. He will muster everyone on Earth who has resented Jesus’ rule and will be determined to make war against those who took part in the first resurrection. This will be the Final Battle, when Jesus will call down fire from the sky on the Beast one last time.
We know that The Final Judgement occurs at this time, when everyone who ever lived on Earth is resurrected and we will each give account of our lives and be judged for the sins we have committed. BUT, if your name is in The Lamb’s Book of Life. you are released from the judgment for the things you have done.
There is much more I will say about these events, but one word of caution. Do NOT be afraid! To have your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, all you need to do is receive Jesus. Pray to Him and invite Him to be your Lord, to claim ownership of your life and your decisions. Admit your need since you know you have sinned, and accept His forgiveness. He wants to forgive you, but cannot unless you let Him. If you want to contact me for help, please email me at email@example.com.
The following is a list of previous blogs along these lines of the Last Days. Lastly, check out this free PDF by Dr. James Christie, The Gold Mine. And I hope to see you in Heaven someday! Jesus loves you and we do not want anyone to miss Heaven.
*If The God Who Is had told us Jesus would return on July 22, 2053, how many people would live selfishly until July 21, and then try to “get right with God” on the last day? And how sincere could their hearts be, leaving them outside of God’s grace? And what if deaths occurred before then? By keeping it a mystery, He calls on us to Be Ready at all times, thus developing our hearts and dedication to Him. In this way we can grow and learn what He is like, what He requires of us, how to really enjoy Him, and to become fully His children.
I wish this could be more gently expressed, but like a man seeing the house of a friend on fire, I must SHOUT IT. There is too little time to say, “Oh, maybe I will disturb him or interrupt his nice supper; I’ll call him later and tell him his house is on fire.” What kind of friend would I be!? That said, no one can force you out of a burning house if it is your choice to stay there. But still, I have to warn that Jesus made it clear, we must Be Ready or we will perish.
We have examined the evidence of evil. There are people who sell other people into the sex trades or some form of indentured servitude. Just as bad, there are people who buy and use them. There are people who will sell drugs to anyone with money to purchase, no matter how badly addicted their victims are; others who will turn a blind eye to crises because it is politically inconvenient or will cost them their job or make them look foolish to others; even more who simply shrug and say, “Well, I am not doing that. It is not my problem.” The mass of German citizens seemed shocked when they were paraded into POW camps after WW2 and said, “Oh, my, we didn’t know.” But their complicity was in not listening to the warning sirens of Jews being “labeled” and marginalized; ignoring the buildup of power into a select few, all in the name of “purifying the race;” making life better for “all of you.”
Evil is evident. Hell is authentic. So how can one avoid it? Jesus spent most of his parables telling about the Kingdom of God and how to get into it. He gave several stern warnings, though, against being deceived. In Matthew 24, four times He told His followers to beware. He then conclude this teaching with a blessing and a severe warning (verses 45-51) .
“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards,the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not knowand will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
He then tellsthe story of ten women who went out to meet a bridegroom. In that culture, the groom would come to his bride at an unannounced time after meeting with his friends. Five were foolish and five were wise. At the end of the story, this Jesus that everyone thinks would always be so kind and forgiving, excludes the foolish women from the groom’s banquet, and quite harshly!
He then tells a story of a landowner who commits responsibilities to his servants while he is away. The wise servants invest his loans to them, but a foolish one hides the money so he can give back only what he received. He gets a tongue lashing that would make Bear Bryant blush, and the land owner orders the “worthless servant [to be cast] into the outer darkness . . . where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
He concludes a trilogy of parables with a story of sheep and goats being separated. To the “goats on the left” Jesus will tell them, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels . . . And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Note, the eternal fire was never intended for humans.
The fearful thing for most people is that Heaven is not our default destination. In our natural state, the way we are born, we are already condemned to hell! John wrote in his Gospel, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already!” John 3:16-18
That is why Jesus told the Pharisee that he needed to be “born again!” Being born into this life was NOT enough! As lovely or successful or rich or powerful or comfortable as one can be, we are all condemned to hell UNLESS we specifically and personally take a step of faith and “repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” to be saved.
It would be “nice” if everyone would get into Heaven, but Jesus clearly teaches that many will NOT! How can I invite you to read the Gospels, the Good News, so that you do not have to go to hell? What can I do to persuade you that you were created for a better life than this? Are there any words I can write that will convince you to trust Jesus for eternal life? What can I show you of how much God, the Father, loves you beyond the fact that Jesus died in your place, in my place?
The promise is completely inclusive: ANYONE can come to Jesus, regardless of past sin, problems, ethnicity, success or failure; NOTHING excludes you! But the promise is completely exclusive simultaneously: ONLY those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved.
Someday, “at the name of Jesus every knee [WILL] bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,and every tongue [WILL] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” when He is fully revealed at the end of time. But there is a special blessing and fellowship of the Holy Spirit and of other Christ-followers for those who bow their knees now, and confess now that Jesus Christ ISLord. Do not be deceived.
Please, dear friends reading this blog, you to whom I have emailed this link, those of you just stopping by for a visit: Pray to Jesus to be born again and to guide you by His Holy Spirit. Begin reading the Bible, especially starting in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). Find someone near you who knows Jesus and start meeting regularly.
If you do not know of anyone in your hometown or country, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will help you find someone out of our international connections. If you want to Zoom with me, just email me, but I encourage you to find someone locally who speaks your ‘heart language.’ Please, prepare or you will perish.
The result of living without Jesus is . Not just a fantasy, not just a short-term separation from what is good. It is a final loss, a final “mercy” of God to those who refuse any blessing. He will not let an evil person go on hurting others into eternity, or even themselves; so He places them in outer darkness (Matthew 8:11-12), alone and apart from any source of light or life, because that is what they have chosen. “All that are in hell choose it. Without that self-choice, there could be no hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find; to those who knock it is opened.” (C.S.Lewis, The Great Divorce)
If they would choose to know The God Who Is Here, anyone can enter into His Life, Light, Joy, Peace and every other blessing that comes from living in consistency with “the universe.” There is only one way to know The God Who Is Here, and that is by getting to know Jesus, the Messiah, aka Christ. “Now this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” (John 17:3) There simply is no other way. Father loves each one of us so much that if there was another way, He would inform us and provide us with the alternatives. But THIS is the nature of the universe. It is what He created and knowing Himis the only way. (Acts 4:10-12)
Like the Children of the Day sang, “Don’t try to drive the darkness out; You just turn on the light.” Hell is the absence of light. It is the absence of love. It is the absence of community. It is the absence of peace. It is the absence of selfless joy. It is the absence of life.
Note, by that I do not mean the end of existence. It that were the case, “hell” would not be all that bad. If when we died we simply vanished into nothingness, there would be no reason for warning and inviting people to Life. However, God created each of us, created YOU, to enjoy Him forever. There is no Infinity Stone that can simply snap away our existence. The gift of existence is without do-overs. (Romans 11:29) We were created for eternity and “He has put eternity into man’s heart.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
One of Job’s visitors described hell as the destiny of all those who do not know God, a dreadful place he calls “the king of terrors.” Hell will be a place of eternal death, because its inhabitants will be separated eternally from the Source of Life. There, like the demons who believe and shudder (James 2:19), its occupants will hate God and the exposing light of his glory. “It is safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to.” (C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain)
Before Him “Every heart will melt, and all hands will be feeble; every spirit will faint, and all knees will be weak as water” (Ezekiel 21:7). Just as the kings of the earth will call to the mountains and rocks, “Hide us from the face of Him who is seated on the throne” (Revelation 6:16), in hell God will give them what they want, a place of complete eclipse, darker than anything we can imagine. (Matthew 22:13; 25:29-30)
As we have noted before (see ), anyone who longs for joy can find it. Moses said in Deuteronomy 4:29, “If you will seek Yahweh your God, you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.” But this is not like trying to find Easter eggs, either in the yard under bushes, or a hidden message in a movie. You do not have to scour the internet or decode mysterious anagrams or learn a particular language. God is not hiding, making you wade through mazes or difficult terminology to find Him. He makes Himself clear to anyone willing to see Him (Romans 1:19-22) Further, He has revealed Himself throughout history via prophets, priests, church leaders and lastly through Jesus.
It would be nice if we could say those who go to hell will only stay there for a little while and then be granted entry into Heaven, kind of like an earthly prison sentence. But remember those who go there go by their own choice because they do now want to live in God’s Kingdom; they refuse to live with someone else that is there; they object to His rulership.
So what awaits one who refuses to believe what God has revealed about Himself? “This is what Yahweh, the LORD, says: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Pay attention to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not pay attention.’ Therefore hear, O nations, and know what will happen to them. Hear, O earth; behold, I am bringing disaster upon this people, the fruit of their devices, because they have not paid attention to my words; and as for my law, they have rejected it.… Therefore this is what Yahweh says: ‘Behold, I will lay before this people a stumbling block against which they shall stumble; fathers and sons together, neighbor and friend shall perish.’” (Jeremiah 6:16-21)
You have this opportunity while you live. (Hebrews 9:27-28) There is no guidance on making this decision after you die, and why would anyone refuse the Lord of Life now while they can learn to know Him before that time? The choice is yours to make. we will look a little more at the choice.
This title is not stated as a threat or with any glee. It is written with trembling knees, a heart full of prayer and sincere desire that anyone reading it may find Life and NOT perish. The title is simply the statement of three facts which I will address in three blogs. Though Jesus spoke much more about the Kingdom of Heaven, we would be remiss if we skipped these subjects that He and the Bible address.
Fairy Tales Some would like us to believe in fairy tales; happily ever after endings without consequences for wrong behavior. Or at least, let’s provide some context which makes wrong choices understandable and tolerable since the villain had it so rough. So Wicked becomes a Disney retelling of Sleeping Beauty that makes Maleficent an unfortunate victim of her circumstances. Romulans actually are nice guys, just with slightly different means of expressing the same values as Federation members. Natasha Romanoff (or Black Widow) had a rough childhood; fortunately, she falls in love with a good guy and joins the Avengers. Severus Snape, the epitome of evil with black cape, boots and a penchant for scaring Potter’s goodniks, turns out to be working for Dumbledore all along. Another black-robed villain, Darth Vader is given reasons for his turn to the dark side. And the Terminator turns out to be a misunderstood robot who just needed reprogramming. Don’t we all?
So in this alternate universe Hitler would be mistreated by his dad and abused by a Jewish teacher. Stalin was a nice kid who just got involved with the wrong crowd, and Pol Pot was very poor and had to steal food to survive as a child.
Unfortunately, alternate “universes” do not exist (with no apologies to Stephen Hawking). By definition, universe means ”the totality of known or supposed objects throughout space; the cosmos.” There cannot be another “universe” that contains that totality; that is an absurdity for which there is not a grain of evidence except in the minds of Star Trek viewers like Hawking.
Not Innocent, Only Incompetent We are the product of choices we make throughout life, beginning with infancy when we want the blocks the other baby has. Shortly after most children master “Mama,” most also learn “Mine!” Children are not innocent; they are simply incompetent. Given the power, the mass of them would eliminate any opposition with a flick of Potter’s wand and simply kill anyone that prevents them from getting their way.
You and I were like that! We had to be taught that there were better things than getting our own way all the time. Most of those lessons were learnt through experience, the best teacher, but hardly the kindest.
In The Great Divorce, C.S.Lewis illustrates these choices among those who refuse Heaven because of what they want. From the dishonest intellectual to a greedy materialist; from a religious hypocrite to a self-deprecating egomaniac; from a mother who preferred to drag her child into hell rather than forfeit control to a tragedian who loved his own misery rather than accept joy that was offered. “Better to reign in hell than serve in Heaven.” (Milton)
There are those who will choose their own way rather than God’s way even at the pain of death. And from their choices will come every kind of evil from murdering unborn children to killing the elderly who no longer “contribute to society” to justifying what once were considered perverse lifestyles. Like Lewis’ Ghosts they will couch their evil in beautiful sounding words like Social Security, Affordable Care, For The People, Toleration or Government Protection, but what they really want is selfish aggrandizement, physical comfort, control of others and power for themselves.
Can’t We All Just Be Nice? Evil is real and it does not go away just because we try to be “nice” to each other. Real love is much harsher than the pablum pop psychology puts out today. If a neighbor’s house is on fire, would we be “nice” and say, “Let’s not upset him; wait till it’s convenient to tell him?”NO, the “loving thing” to do would be to bang on his door, disturb his “peace,” and warn him to get to safety! So it is that if we fail to warn people of the reality of evil and its consequences, we are simply “nice neighbors” who do not care if our acquaintances die.
Trying to be nice to some people is like appeasement of Hitler just prior to the Nazi invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. There was a madness sweeping Europe and the Führer was simply its pawn. This does not excuse him of the war’s atrocities, but remember he was as deceived as those he was deceiving (See 2 Timothy 3:12-13), an evil-doer going from bad to worse.
Paul had this to say to his protégé pastoring in Ephesus: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.” (1 Timothy 4:1-3)
And again some time later:
“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith.” (2 Timothy 3:1-9)
Children of the Day We are called to be light in a darkening world, salt to a rotting, tasteless culture (Matthew 5:13-16). The times will become darker yet, as political leaders lie more, as religious conviction becomes labeled “Hate Speech,” as bureaucratic alignments for economic and national interests bring together enemies of Israel, as whole societies “call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isaiah 5:8-30)
However, though evil is real and becomes more evident, we are called “to walk in the Light, even as He is in the light.” (1 John 1:5-9) We must stand distinctly apart from liars and deceivers who say, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:13-15) And we pray for the deceived that they may see the Truth (Ephesians 4:18-19)
The Children of the Day recorded this song back in 1979 based on 1 Thessalonians 5:5-9. When your heart is dark and empty and new shadows start to fall; When cluttered fears and sin are the writing on your wall; Your confusion and your doubts are always lurking left and right, Don’t try to drive the darkness out; you just turn on the light.
We’re the children of the light, and we’re the children of the day. We need not always stumble in an ever darkening way. Though the darkness will close in around with shadows everywhere, Still Jesus Christ is in our life, the Light of the world is there.
Next week, , I will discuss what Jesus and the Apostles taught about hell. It’s not pretty.