Evil Is Evident; Hell Is Authentic; Prepare or Perish.

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
2021-03-27 WickedSome 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
2021-03-27 Not Innocent Just IncompetentWe 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?
2021-03-27 House on FireEvil 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
2021-03-27 Children Of The DayWe 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.

Alien Visitations: From Two Worlds

“My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest. But now my kingdom is from another place.”  Jesus, John 18:36

This world seems so solid at times we seem to forget we will not be here long.  Seventy years used to be about the limit, but now many octogenarians and nonagenarians occupy independent living houses as well as assisted living quarters.  Psychologists tell us it takes about five years to internalize a major life change so that it feels normal, a small percentage against 80 or 90 years of life.  The result is that most of us feel very comfortable in our life situations, unless we are under significant duress or in dire conflicts.

C.S.Lewis 2There is a danger in getting too comfortable in this world though.  “Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that he is ‘finding his place in it’, while really it is finding its place in him. His increasing reputation, his widening circle of acquaintances, his sense of importance, the growing pressure of absorbing and agreeable work, build up in him a sense of being really at home in earth… You will notice that the young are generally less unwilling to die than the middle-aged and the old.” (C.S.Lewis)

We must keep in mind we have been visited by Someone who was not from this world.  He is its Creator, but we did not trust Him in the Garden of Eden and because of our founders’ lack of trust, we still find it difficult to trust Him.   However, for those who make a decision to trust Him, there is a transfer of citizenship that takes place.  We receive passports that identify us as belonging to another world as well, even though we have not visited our new “home country.”  (See John 1:1-14; Hebrews 11:10.)

Yet we remain in this world for a time until our Supreme Commander decides it is time for us to leave for home.  For many of us this usually stretches out to that 70 or 80 years to which we referred in the opening lines of this blog.  During this time, He calls on us to represent Him as His ambassadors (1 Corinthians 5:20), aliens in the world as He was an alien (John 20:21).  And as aliens we may expect some of the prejudices and antagonism that comes with not being in our natural environment.  (1 John 3:13)

In particular we must be aware, without becoming engrossed, by the presence of “other aliens” who are not from this world, and who hold major influence in the affairs of mankind!  Much of our antagonism comes not from the people who will oppose us when we act as Christ’s representative, but rather from subtle influences of which most people will be unaware (2 Corinthians 4:4).  There is a Spirit in the world that leads us into relationship with The God Who Is There, and there are spirits in the world that oppose Him without reason or sanity.

We understand there are two dangers associated to recognizing the activity of demon powers:
1.  Ignoring them and pretending they do not exist.
2.  Obsessing over them and seeing them under every rock and in every shadow.

A friend of mine who worked in a bank told me about one of her training exercises.  She was told she needed to learn to recognize counterfeit bills in order to effectively do her job.  The training consisted primarily of sitting in a room and counting money for the tellers for several hours per day.  She wondered how long this would go on as she began to suspect maybe this was all they wanted her to do; count the money and never get trained for anything more.

Money 2Then one day, she “felt” one of the bills coming across her desk.  Something seemed “different” about it.  The thickness of the paper was not quite right; the ink seemed slightly different.  Looking very closely she noticed lines in Jackson’s coat that seemed out of place and border lines that were inconsistent.  She had found a counterfeit $20 bill, the most commonly counterfeited currency in that day.  Reporting it to her supervisor, he then had her check several other stacks of bills.  One by one, she found several counterfeits in different denominations in the various piles.

It was then she was told of the counterfeits she had missed in her first couple days of training.  And in fact, the bank was getting concerned that she would not work out.  But as she continued handling the real bills, eventually she began to recognize the fakes!  She told me about this episode when I told her that I had accepted a counterfeit $20 at the store at which I worked and had been called to the bank to Moneyverify my deposit.  Even after telling me it was phony currency, I could not identify it as counterfeit.  But her training in handling so many real bills had prepared her to “feel” the false one as soon as it was in her hands.

This is how we should “handle” dealing with demons.  If we love the truth, if we immerse ourselves in the Word of God and study the Scripture, if we practice the Presence (see August 20, 2016) of the “real” Spirit of God, that alien Visitor with whom we are allied, then when the “phony” spirit of this age comes along, we will recognize it because we will simply know from our experience what the real “feels” like.  (1John 1:1, 2:27)

If instead, we become too comfortable in this world, if we only handle the Bible when someone else reads or teaches it, if we ignore our Commander’s Presence throughout the day, we will be ill prepared to identify the counterfeit.

With which visitor to this world do you want to identify?