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God v. The People

According to Scripture, each of us must stand before the judgement seat of God when our time on earth is done. Christians do not contend with this statement. However, there is not a consensus on what follows.

Most Christians maintain that there are only two possible outcomes. The first, of which, follows an innocent verdict: The Pearly gates. The second, which follows a guilty verdict, is believed to be irrevocable and undeniably hopeless.

Before we delve into the rationale behind what follows conviction, let’s consider what led up to this case of God v. The People. Is it God v. The People (as a whole) or is it God v. [you/me]? If it is not one or the other, but both, consider how that may effect what Jesus was sent to accomplish here on earth.

Did Jesus die for humanity or particular individuals? Now, that is a major division in the Body of Christ. Jesus died for humankind. Although Augustinian theology teaches that Jesus only died for particular individuals (the Elect), let’s tackle this question assuming that Jesus died for everyone.

If Jesus actually is the Savior of the world, we must see the sheep in his parable as an image of the world rather than a tiny predestined group of individuals. When a Christian attempts to draw the latter inference, the only thing that this achieves is a minor avoidance of a contradiction in theology. There is nothing profound about Jesus leaving 99 predestined “sheep” to find another predestined sheep that just wandered off from the flock.

When it comes to “the Judgement Seat of God”, is it even proper to view divine judgement as a modern day court case? Should we see Jesus as our defender or prosecutor? Who is our judge? According to John 5:22, that would be Jesus; which makes him our judge, jury, and prosecutor/defende .

Few Christians question the fate of those who die “unsaved”. Most believe that the lost will suffer forever, with no possibility of grace hereafter. They believe it to be a decree from the Most High. So, why question it? Although few question it by mouth, most believers question it by their inaction.

So, how do you plead? Before you make your plea, you should first determine the charge. Many assume the charge is sin. That is the route many evangelists take, after all. If they are correct, no one can enter a plea of innocence. That seems to be the gist of evangelism nowadays.

What if I told you that sin is no longer the primary charge? Has the letter of the Law ever been a means to salvation? No. Jesus has always been the only road to redemption. According to 2 Corinthians 3:6, the letter of the law kills, but the Spirit gives a life which the Law cannot negate.

Ever since Jesus rose victoriously from the grave (defeating sin and death on our behalf), there has only been one offense for which we all must enter a plea: the command to repent.

“The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,”
‭‭—Acts‬ ‭17:30 ESV‬‬

If one’s charge is disbelief, how is justice served in that regard? It’s quite different than the whole “sin against an infinite God deserves an infinite punishment” scheme, isn’t it? What is the consequence for disbelief? Rather than attempting to reason this out, let’s first determine if Scripture has already given us a straightforward answer to this question.

Anyone who knows anything about the Bible knows that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Given that Jesus died and rose from the grave on behalf of the world, thereby settling our ransom, it follows that the wages of disbelief deserves the same condemnation. (Keep in mind that ransoms are paid to captors. The Father is not our captor.)

Many assume that we have a long (sometimes short) life to live; a life which determines our destiny. However, according to John 3:18, condemnation for disbelief is not some future sentence. For, “those who do not believe are condemned already.”

The faithless do not know God and, consequently, live a life of spiritual condemnation. Just like a hog wallows in the mud, so also do the lost wallow and grope in darkness. The blind do not see the light because they do not currently possess the faith necessary to have their sight restored. Which begs the question: Will some eyes remain eternally closed?

I can’t help but believe that our Heavenly Father is much better than even those closest to his heart can imagine. Yet, if I am mistaken and have failed to see God as he truly is, then although sin and death may have lost the battle at Calvary, when all is all said and done, they will have certainly won the war.

Yet, we do not need to worry about tomorrow because tomorrow is in the hands of our Maker. Rest assured. We have been promised a day with no more tears; no more pain; no more fears. A day will dawn when all will be made new. On that day, we will no longer depend on the the sun for light or warmth; for he will be our light. And where there is light, there can be no darkness!

The Light of the world shall see the travail of his soul and be satisfied. Just as the good Shepard is not satisfied with 99 sheep, neither can the Light of the world be satisfied with even a single eye left unopened.

Absent Fathers in a Digital Era

Last night, I came to the sudden realization that I was an absent father . . . and it broke my heart. I did not just come home from work. Neither did I just complete a work week only to realize that I hadn’t spent time with my children for quite some time. It hit me last night as I laid in bed thinking about going to work the following day.

The previous evening, our family returned home from a conference that we attended the previous three days. I took those days off from work to spend time with my family. Yet as I laid in bed, I realized that although I was physically with my wife and children, I was mentally absent. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I couldn’t remember a time when I was, mentally, fully with them.

My son has actually told me on many occasions that I was on my phone all the time. Of course, he usually tells me this while I am on my phone. Last night, he told me again. Since, of course, I was on my phone at the time, I wasn’t fully hearing him. I was physically there, but mentally absent. He could see that. So, he said it several times in a row to make me here it.

How did I respond? I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I essentially told him to stop. I was annoyed by the repetition, so I missed what he was really trying to say. He wanted to play with me . . . Daddy rarely has time for that. So, most of the time, I put him on the tv or tell him to play in his room or to find something else to do. Evidently, I would rather he occupy himself.

He often asks me to play with him when he gets tired of watching tv. I sometimes do, but not nearly often enough and only for a few minutes; only to get back on my phone to watch Netflix or to play a mobile game.

Lately, CJ has been in a phase where he constantly wants to play on my phone. Sometimes I allow him to do so while I read a book. Seemingly, he has become obsessed with a game that has become an obsession of mine. When my wife and I noticed that it had become a problem, we decided to limit his activity with electronics.

The sad, very sad, thing about this entire ordeal is that it has taken me so very long to realize that I have a problem with my phone and that it has simply bled over into our children’s lives.

Perhaps his fascination with my phone stems from him attempting to connect with his disconnected father. He wants to be like his daddy, whether it be for good or bad. I have only now come to realize that if something needs to be fixed when it comes to our children, the problem likely needs to be fixed in me beforehand.

Our children know that I love them. I show them that everyday. Yet, they miss far too much of me when I am home and that is unacceptable. And if my phone disconnects me from our children, how much more does it disconnect me from my wife?

At the moment, it saddens me greatly to see how horribly I have failed our family. Yet I see it and refuse to allow it to continue. Family is everything and time is fleeting. Therefore, from this moment on, I refuse to squander another second of it. I don’t know exactly how I can make the most of my time with my wife and children, but I do know that it begins with putting my phone away while I am physically with them.

I grew up with a physically absent father. I refuse to allow my children to grow up with a mentally absent one. So from this moment on, I will strive to be present in my family’s lives. What about you? #MentallyPresent

Hell in a Nutshell: The Mystery of His Will (Audiobook)

It has been a year or so since I published my book in paperback. Ever since the day of publication, I have been asked when it would be available in audio. Well, that day has arrived! I have partnered with a distinguished professional in the field of audio book publications (Kevin O’Connell) and have finally delivered what many have been waiting for.

My book is now available in paperback, ebook format, and audio format (Audible, Amazon , & iTunes). If you are in the blogging business and would like a free copy for review, we can definitely make that happen.

To those who partner with me in spreading the message of the greater hope, I would greatly appreciate a tweet, or any other kind of mention that is within your capabilities.

Enjoy!

God’s Ten Commitments

Historically, religion has always been based around a works-based philosophy. Yes, even Christianity, which supposedly stands apart from every other religion due to its grace-based foundation, easily slips into a works-based philosophy disguised as the former. It takes “you reap what you sow”” to preposterous lengths.

Jesus paid it all . . . BUT . . .

For some reason, many assume that our sowing of faith allows us to reap grace even though grace requires nothing beyond the giving. Granted, we may miss the benefits of grace apart from faith, but God never intended to cast us away when some metaphysical clock hits zero.

Christianity has long been understood as the younger brother of Judaism. Being of the same heritage, it makes sense that the two would have many commonalities. The most obvious of such has to do with The Ten Commandments.

Long, long ago, after Israel was finally freed from her slavery in Egypt, she made a covenant with God that was based on a set of Laws which required her to abide by a certain standard. Although this standard was and is positive, in and of itself — seeing how there is nothing wrong with the original commandments that she was given — those commandments gradually grew from ten liberating truths to hundreds of unmanageable burdens; it became something that brought Israel right back under the harsh task-master from which she was delivered.

The original Ten Commandments were basic. Much like love, sin could be avoided if they rested in the basics; rather than struggling with the dos . . . or shall I say, the “do nots.”

Jesus stated that out of the Ten Commandments, two were of the utmost importance: to love God with all of our being and to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we would but focus our attention primarily on those commandments, there would be no need to worry about sinning against God or man.

Works-based religion takes our focus off of Christ and places it on ourselves. We becomes so obsessed with not doing this or that that we forget about Christ and his triumph. We forget to rest in him as we weep and gnash our teeth in works-based religion.

Jesus came not to compile the religious do’s and don’ts, but to demolish our carnal paradigm of God. He came not to grind the Law into our souls, but to reveal that the Law was designed to point out our need of him and, ultimately, to write his law on our hearts. We need Christ; not to help us keep this law or that one, but to help us understand that the Law is good news in him. Outside of Christ it is a curse. Yet in him, it is his commitment tous.

On one glorious day, all the world will have no other god but God; we will not steal, neither will we covet; we will not kill, neither will we commit adultery; we will simply love and everything else will fall into its rightful place.

Our sinful condition must be treated through a proper perspective of the disease itself; it must be cured rather than quarantined. Would the Lover of our souls settle for anything less?

The Mystery of His Will

Ephesians 1:9–11 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. In fact, I favor it so much that I wrote an entire book around this passage. 

In my book, I explain how this mystery is no longer hidden from the world. Until Christ came to show us what God was really like, man and angel alike have long attempted to decipher this mystery. Praise be to God that he has finally lifted the veil from our eyes!

In my book, Hell in a Nutshell: The Mystery of His Will, I usually quote Scripture from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible. Consider the wording of the New Living Translation (NLT):

“God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.” —Ephesians‬ ‭1:9-11‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Let’s carefully consider the NLT’s wording of this passage. 

“God has now (finally, after hundreds of years of us attempting to work it out in our heads) revealed to us his mysterious will (the mystery of his will) regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. (The mystery of his will was primarily to fulfill his good plan for all of creation through Christ, but how?) And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—(to clarify “everything” for those who may try to limit that word:) everything in heaven and on earth. (Again, his good plan was to unite everything in Christ; not just some, but all.) 

”Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.” (Everything works our according to his plan. It was his plan for some Jews to believe first and for some gentiles to follow in the faith. Furthermore, it is his plan to unite everyone and everything else in the fullness of times.) —Ephesians‬ ‭1:9-11‬ ‭NLT‬‬

God has chosen us: the human race. For far too long, we have been told that God has chosen some and abandoned the rest. Does that sound like a good plan? His plans are much better than that.

If you would like to look deeper into this mystery, which has been revealed through Christ, this is a good place to start!

If you would like to read more, check out my previous blog posts. Feel free to subscribe if you would like to be notified of future articles. 

Shalom.

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