Perhaps you are like me. I have toddled along for decades believing biblical claims without asking an important question: “Why isn’t the teacher quoting that verse in its context?” In fact, just last week, I fell for it again. I quoted one myself. But that verse remained rummaging around in my brain for a few days, so I actually looked it up, wonder of wonders. The verse in question is this: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).1 Our teachers have used this verse to address a litany of human fears. There is a large list of things of which to be afraid, as you might imagine. Thus, if you are a Christian and a fellow believer heard you say, “I’m afraid,” you probably know which verse would be quoted. It may have happened to you. We evangelicals like to have quick answers and solutions, even ones that are colored by a vague accusation. “You’re being influenced by a bad spirit!”

Let’s begin our investigation of the context in which this verse was written.

“For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love, and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…” (2 Timothy 1:5–10). 2

When Paul is reminding Timothy of his sincere faith and then encourages him to “kindle afresh the gift of God,” what is Paul doing? He is encouraging Timothy to re-invigorate the gift of God by prayer and biblical thinking, to “step up his game,” so to speak. Timothy has become shy concerning the things pertaining to salvation and our Savior, Jesus. To encourage him to do this, Paul recounts the wonderful things that God has done. Paul tells Timothy that the Spirit that is in him, the Holy Spirit, is not a spirit of timidity. It’s the opposite. It is the Spirit of power, love, and discipline.

Now, concerning the misuse of verse seven. You probably noticed immediately that the word “fear” is not present. The word “fear” is used by the KJV and the ESV, two prominent translations, and one of these is used most often by teachers who want to tell us that we should not be afraid of anything because that is “the spirit of fear.”

However, the word “timidity” is used in the NIV and the NASB. Let’s look at the reason for the difference. The most common word for “fear” in the New Testament is the Greek word “phobos,” from which we get the English word “phobia.” Its meaning in the New Testament is “terror.” We are to fear God. We are not to fear men or anything else because God is our refuge and deliverer. However, the word for “fear” in verse seven is not “phobia.” It is “deilia,” which means timidity, faintheartedness, or cowardice. This is the only place in the New Testament in which that word appears. It seems clear that Paul is referring to Timothy’s timid reluctance to proclaim the truth about Jesus. Is fear involved in his timidity? Yes. Fear of man, repercussions, or punishment for sharing the gospel. But it is misleading to use this verse to teach that being afraid of anything is because that’s the “spirit of fear.” This verse has nothing whatsoever to do with a multitude of fears we experience in our lives.

So, we Christians must not do what I did a few days ago and now must rectify. We must check out the context of out-of-context verses we are taught. Otherwise, we are believing a lie and are being misled. This is dangerous because the words of Scripture can be manipulated to prove just about anything. We must know the truth of Scripture.

1The New King James Version. (1982). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.    

2All other Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

Gif courtesy Bing images.

I met with a pastor a while back who is struggling. He is bi-vocational, which means he is trying to start a church and work at a secular job at the same time. He’s doing this in one of the poorest parts of our city. I admire him for this.

Regardless of this admiration, his bank account is suffering. He feels like he is not taking care of his wife as he should. He told me that he has dishonored God.

A few years ago, my wife, Laurie, shared an insight in the Bible with me from the book of Acts. “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them” (Acts 16:9–10).1

Laurie said, “Look what happened after Paul and Silas arrived.”

What do you think happened after they arrived?

Keep in mind that Paul had a vision from God. This man was calling, asking for help. Can you imagine the expectations that Paul and Silas had as they headed toward Macedonia?

It went well—at first. A few days after they arrived, they went down to the river to pray, and met a woman named Lydia at the river who came to know the Savior and was baptized. A few days after that, a slave girl was delivered of a spirit of divination. Paul may have been thinking, “God indeed called us here! Great things are being done for the kingdom of God for His glory!” It turned out that the child who was set free was a good money maker for some local—opportunists would be a kind word. Evil slave owners would be a better description. So, all hell broke loose. An angry mob seized and beat them.

We often forget what the Bible says about suffering for Christians, including those who are ministering people, even people who are called by the Lord to do something specifically. After having been called, the believer would think all would be sunshine and roses. However, Paul said an interesting thing earlier in Acts after men had stoned him in Lystra. “When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:21–22). He said it before he received the vision about Macedonia. So, my guess is that he wasn’t surprised about what happened there. And please note that even though he had been stoned in Lystra, he returned to that city. Paul, an apostle that did so much to bring the truth to the world, said this about his life:

“Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure” (2 Corinthians 11:24–27).

Christian leaders today often teach that Christ has chosen us for greatness and He has plans for us to do amazing things. Such men should add that there is a cost to being called by God. He has purposed that we enter His kingdom “through many tribulations.” By “enter His kingdom,” I don’t mean only “go to heaven.” I mean entering His kingdom which includes learning what it means to have a King and bowing the knee to Him in everything—including suffering and the giving up our own comfort and lives.

1All Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Gif courtesy Bing images.

           

The title of this article is a saying that has been going around for a while in the Evangelical church. It is a resignation that, despite our efforts, the nation seems to be inevitably headed for the dung heap, and there is nothing we can do about it. Let’s be honest. We have been living in that immoral, lawless dung for some time. I don’t refer to politics. I refer to morality.

Normal is not coming back, but Jesus is. He promised He would. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3). 1

Normal isn’t coming back. No one has ever lived in an age where the Church, or perhaps we should say the so-called church, accepts murder and sexual immorality as routine. “Normal” was once at least a cultural acceptance that both of those sins were to be abhorred.

The sentence, “Normal isn’t coming back,” is a bit light-hearted, but there should be an understanding that leaving “normal” has dire consequences.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Paul described the repercussions of this walk toward death in the first chapter of Romans.

“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21).

How do foolish, darkened hearts behave? We have been seeing one aspect of it for some time. Women’s rights outweigh murder. This makes sense to a large percentage of the American population, and those who hold that position are distressed that their right to murder their own children may become illegal. Their foolish hearts are darkened. As Michael Card wrote in his song, Spirit of the Age,

“The voices heard of weeping and of wailing,
History speaks of it on every page. 
Of innocent and helpless little babies, 
Offerings to the spirit of the age.”

“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done” (Romans 1:28).

A debased mind means that people will do what ought not to be done. There is an implied law-breaking in this sentence, “ought,” means there is an obligation to follow some rule or law. The law, of course, in Paul’s mind is the perfect law of God.

Perhaps believers will not be here for this moral descent, but right now we are at the border of this truth:

“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:12–13).

“Evil people and imposters will go on from bad to worse.” Are these just words? Just something long ago and far away?

But all is not all doom and gloom.

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19).

That deliverance does not mean there won’t be tribulation and physical harm. Paul wrote,

“Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned” (2 Corinthians 11:24–25a).

How was Paul delivered from his afflictions? He entered the Lord’s marvelous heavenly kingdom as a beloved, forgiven, righteous, and pardoned man who would live forever with God and the saints.  

This is our blessed hope. Jesus is coming back, both for the dead and the living saints.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Gif courtesy Bing images.

One of our close relatives—we’ll call her Elizabeth—is residing in the assisted living wing of a nearby nursing home. She is a Christian widow who has served the Lord for many years as a prayer warrior. Although Elizabeth is declining mentally, she has remained kind, sweet, and, at times, funny, telling little jokes and making quips. In the last few months, her deteriorating condition has become disturbing. We are unsure, but it appears that various incidents in her life have accelerated that decline.

Recently, we received a call at 2:30 in the morning from the facility where she lives. They told us that Elizabeth had been running down the hallway screaming, “They’re liars! They’re trying to hurt me! They’re trying to kill me!” The reader is probably aware that paranoia is an interesting phenomenon. If one says things like, “I’m sure no one’s trying to kill you,” you may be perceived as among those who are the enemies. One must tread carefully and wisely.

My wife, Laurie, threw on some clothes and rushed to her. When Elizabeth saw Laurie, her eyes were hollow, like she wasn’t sure she recognized her. An idea came to Laurie, from the Lord, surely, to suggest that they look at a new photo album of her great-grandson recently sent by her only daughter. This seemed to calm her down and things began to improve.

The Lord, bless His name and thanks to Him, has given Laurie a heart of love for this woman. Nevertheless, dealing with and ministering to her is persistently sad. And, yes, frustrating.

The other night, this afflicted lovely lady called at 3:30 in the morning. She told Laurie that she was “being hidden.” She thought the Cheerios the staff had given her had been poisoned. Laurie offered to come, but thinking Laurie wouldn’t be safe, Elizabeth declined. She said there had been a trial and, “Somebody is going to die, and it won’t be you.” Laurie offered the encouragement that the Lord would keep her safe, and that she was indeed, safe and loved. She reassured her of these truths many times, and it seems that eventually the Spirit of God began to make them real to her. After flushing the Cheerios down the toilet, Elizabeth seemed to relax and said she was tired and would be able to sleep now. Assured the Lord would and could keep her she said, “I am safe.”

We have prayed for several years that the Lord would restore Elizabeth’s mind. This, however, does not appear to be His will. It is Laurie’s calling to minister to this sister and suffer, in a relatively small way, with her.

God does love Elizabeth, this afflicted woman. He loves us. When all seems to be deteriorating and falling, His love remains true regardless of how horrible the circumstances. It is not just a faint hope or something we must struggle to believe. He loves us in our terrors. He loves us in our injuries. He loves us when we are mentally healthy or mentally ill. He loves us when our bodies are young and full of strength and vigor as well as when we are old, busted up, and worn out.

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:1–2). 1

The Creator of all that exists has made us His children, heirs with Jesus Himself. He offered up His life in His love for us and to accomplish this adoption. Elizabeth is His child.

I wonder how those who don’t know the Lord deal with situations similar to those in which our sister lives. True, it is difficult for us, her relatives, but tragically, unbelievers have no hope of help from the only One who can supply comfort and love. May they come to know Him, the great Comforter.

Thank You, Father; thank You, Jesus, for Your peace and great love for us—and for Elizabeth.

1Scripture reference from The New King James Version. (1982). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Gif courtesy Bing images.

A while back, I wrote an article entitled, “Good-bye, Sun. Good-bye, Moon.” In it, I wrote about how the Lord God Almighty will one day make all things new and that the moon, sun, and stars will no longer exist.

If the reader is interested, the link is at the end of this post. 1

The absence of the sun and moon is an interesting reality to consider. I apologize for my adolescent wonderings here. I have little doubt most of the readers are saying to themselves, “You’ve only just now begun to think about these things”?

Be merciful. Some of us are a little slower than others.

The absence of the sun means no warmth as we understand warmth. I must assume that “warmth” will no longer have meaning for a people who have been given new bodies.

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Philippians 3:20–21). 2

No sun also means no photosynthesis. Yet we are told this:

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:1–2).

At least one tree will be in God’s heavenly kingdom, which means, I assume, bark and roots. We’re told there will be fruit. There will be only one kind of fruit per month in this heavenly tree, but the leaves of this tree must be extraordinary. This is clearly not the leaves that exist today because these leaves possesses healing for nations. I do not know what this means. Does it mean nations will be healed or the people who inhabit them? Or both?

However, how can this tree exist? Photosynthesis is no longer operative, at least as we understand it.

I must assume that the Lord creates a new kind of tree as well as a new kind of fruit.

All the readers may now say together, “Duh.”

The absence of the sun means no more light from that nuclear furnace. God will be our light. What is that light like? I do not know. The Apostle Paul may have seen it, perhaps on the road to Damascus. That light will be shining all the time because there will be no night.

“And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:5).

I assume none of the saints will be sleeping.

Water will also be available in the heavenly kingdom, as the above verses from Revelation 22:1-2 indicate.

But how can there be water? There is no weather. No rain. No oceans.

But all things have been made new. So, this is a new kind of water, although it flows like the water we are familiar with. It may even supply water to the tree that, somehow, is on both sides of the river and in the river at the same time.

 To me, all of this sounds wonderfully incomprehensible and extraordinary, carrying with it a glorious anticipation.

Reader, I hope to meet you there.

The alternative to this heavenly place is torment and flame (Luke 16:22-24). Please, if you are not a believer in Jesus, delay your decision no longer. No one knows the day when they will breathe their last breath and, in a moment, stand before God to be judged. Forgiveness is available because the God who will do all the wondrous things outlined here loves you.

1 https://jlthomson.wordpress.com/2021/03/22/good-bye-sun-good-bye-moon/

2All Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Gif courtesy Bing images.

So, here I am, recipient of two COVID-19 vaccinations and being encouraged to get a booster. Scientists are concerned about a Delta variant. After two injections, I still am under the mandate to wear a mask. I have serious doubts that this third shot will have much effect as the virus continues to mutate. Will there ever be an end? There are twenty-four letters in the Greek alphabet. How many variants will there be? How many vaccinations must we receive?

So, I wonder.

Without embroiling myself in the no-vax-yes-vax controversy, as a believer in the Lord God Almighty and His sovereignty, I must hold to the truth that He has either caused or allowed this deadly corona virus to wreak its havoc. He could have prevented it. He could kill it.

He has not. He may have caused it. He may be the force pushing those mutations.

So, we frail humans are forced to ask, “Why?”

I can offer no answer to this question. Only that God knows all things. He is sovereign. He is good. He is love.

My wife and I watched a movie recently in which there was a scene at a graveside service. The father of his dead grandchild and daughter was wondering aloud how these terrible, senseless murders could be part of God’s plan. “How could it be part of anybody’s plan?” he asked.

The one who was created asks his Creator if He knows what He’s doing. The pot questions the Potter.

Oh, we weak, unknowing, ignorant humans who think we can put the Creator of the heavens and the earth on the witness stand so we, in all our arrogant, insufficient, unbelieving knowledge can pepper Him with questioning accusations. It is wise for me, in a godly and loving way, to encourage those on that prosecution team to read the Book of Job, when that suffering man put the Lord on the witness stand. In His response, God didn’t go down the list of accusations one at a time in order to defend Himself. In fact, He didn’t attempt to defend His actions at all.

He looked at the one accusing Him in the eye and asked him, instead, to defend himself, asking, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know!” (Job 38:2–5a). 1

Where was Job when the Lord created the earth? Um, he hadn’t been born yet. Better, he hadn’t been created yet. He had no hand in forming the earth and undeniably had no knowledge whatsoever of how to do so. He didn’t offer advice or counsel to the One laying its foundations. He had no knowledge of how the creation occurred nor how he could have contributed to it. None whatsoever.

Am I being too flippant in addressing the reader who has suffered the loss his or her loved ones in this pandemic? I trust what I write here has not done this.

As Scripture says, in the middle of trials, I endeavor to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).

In times of suffering and loss, I must believe Jesus when He said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

I must surrender my understanding to the truth that is in the Lord’s Prayer:

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

May the Lord bless you as you surrender to His sovereign will as the earth is shaken by the onslaught of COVID-19.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Gif courtesy Bing images

One of the things I think we’ve done wrong as the Church is that we think the human quality of our leaders and developing large organizations is how we “grow” the Church.

However, Jesus told us that He would build the Church.

We’ve tried to build it.

It’s fascinating to me that the God of the universe, in the flesh and blood body of Jesus, after He had done the most monumental thing in human history, left it all to—eleven guys. No organization. Just eleven men that He had taught and then empowered with the Holy Spirit. Eleven individuals who really hadn’t “gotten it” yet. Somehow, this amazingly intelligent God—remember, He created this amazing world and everything in it—thought this was sufficient.

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18–20).

Consider Paul. How did the church grow through His ministry? It wasn’t through his or anyone else’s human abilities.

“What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth (1 Corinthians 3:5–7).

This is how God purposes to grow the Church.

Here’s one example, from the book of Acts. After Paul returned to Jerusalem after his missionary journeys, he met with the elders there. He told them “one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry” The response of these elders? “And when they heard it, they glorified God.” Acts 21:17-20a). How would we respond today? Yes, we would also glorify God. And then we would ask Paul how he did it and try to replicate it, using our organizational skills. The apostles didn’t do this.

The account of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch is another example. Philip shares the gospel with the eunuch. Then, miraculously, Philip is taken away by the power of God. The eunuch heads back to Ethiopia. By himself. The church started there. I can’t imagine that God could have made a more emphatic point. Philip was not allowed to go with this man. That makes some of us a bit itchy.

We’ve done the best we knew how with “doing church.” But in my opinion God has attached the wires to the ignition device and is slowly pushing the plunger. He’s going to blow this whole thing up.

Before we dig into the next article, I want to notify those who are subscribed to this blog that I’m updating and re-publishing some past articles so they can be converted to podcasts on Anchor. You may have noticed that I re-published one Friday. You’ll be receiving these updated articles in your inbox in the future but please feel free to enjoy or ignore them. Sorry if it’s an inconvenience. 

Okay. Let’s carry on.

I saw the words in the title of this article many decades ago on a photo. I thought it was humorous. It is obvious that Nietzsche was dead. He died in 1900. But was God dead, as Nietzsche was quoted as saying?

Nietzsche wasn’t boldly proclaiming the views of a determined atheist when he said God was dead and that we had killed Him. He was challenging the children of the Enlightenment. They had declared that reason and science were the forces that would guide, help, and cause us to thrive, and that we no longer had need of God. Nietzsche wondered why, then, those children of the Enlightenment who wanted to eliminate the Christian God from all of life, still lived as though God were still alive and continued to adhere to His moral laws.

God, of course, is not dead. He is not only an eternal being, He is the eternal being.  He lives in eternity. When I write that, I don’t mean at all that He lives in the universe. The universe is not eternal, although, from our point of view, it is so incalculably vast that it must be. However, the Bible tells us that is not the case.

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed” (2 Peter 3:10).

Being eternal, He can give eternal life to those who believe in Jesus. That eternal life can only be bestowed by someone who is Himself eternal. What one doesn’t possess, one cannot give away. That life can only be obtained by believing in Jesus who paid a debt we cannot.

But back to Nietzsche. Why do people who do not believe in the Christian God still hold to many of His moral laws? They may say, “For the sake of society and maintaining stability.”

However, why do society and stability matter?

Unbelievers believe that human beings are simply advanced apes. Those apes evolved over eons from something that formed in a tide pool, hot springs, or near a deep-sea hydrothermal vent. They have no evidence for this, of course, but what else could it have been? This “thing,” whatever it was, died and passed along its attributes to another “thing,” although, of course, it had no DNA to do so. Nevertheless, “thing” to cell to another, which grouped together, and on and on the fairy tale goes.

But if we are just an accumulation of a very advanced development of cells, what does it matter what we do? We’re only animals, after all. No one slaps handcuffs on a male gorilla for killing its own offspring. No one puts a cheetah in jail for taking down a gazelle, a grizzly bear for killing a cub, or an eagle for snatching some salmon, one of our dear, distant cousins, from a river.

No, somehow, we are different. But unbelievers know the truth of it, although they refuse to give credence to it.

“For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).

God’s law is writ large in our beings. We know we are guilty when we break His laws, unless we are psychopathically insane, I suppose.

Believers do have evidence that God exists. Just look up into the heavens. Study flowers. Insects. All manner of living beings. Unbelievers will say, of course, “That’s not evidence.” They are without excuse. And this is the state of their lives.

“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:21–23).   

Please pray for your unbelieving friends.

1All Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Gif courtesy Bing images.

I was reading in Isaiah last night about King Ahaz, who eventually capitulated and trusted in a treaty with an ungodly nation rather than trusting in the God of Israel. The Lord was speaking this particular portion, however, to Isaiah himself:

“For the Lord spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: ‘Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken’” (Isaiah 8:11–15).1

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To mask or not to mask.

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate.

To die or not to die.
“To die, to sleep;

To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;”

Whether we mask or not or get vaccinated or not, one thing is certain in all this controversy: Death comes to us all. All data indicate this. Only one person has conquered that, but we’ll get to him in a moment. Regardless of how we die, there will be no dreams or sleeping, as Hamlet pondered. No, only two outcomes exist, and we will know the final, eternal result when we breathe that last breath.

One ending place is hot.

“This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14–15). 1

It is a dwelling place where people are weeping, in pain, and gnashing their teeth.

“The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:41–42).

It is dark.

“These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever” (Jude 12–13).

This is not the residence in which any sane person would desire to live for eternity. Yet, countless millions have and will.

The other outcome is quite different. From what the Bible tells us, believers in Jesus will never be thirsty—or hungry—again. No intense flames for them.

“They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat” (Revelation 7:16).

No gnashing of teeth, not even any pain. There will be weeping but not from torment. We can only speculate why Christians will be weeping in heaven, but they will be comforted by God Himself.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

It will be a place, not of darkness, but of beautiful light, which we have never experienced before on the earth.

“And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Revelation 21:23).

The entrance fee to enter this wonderful place? One need only realize that he or she does not know God, is a sinner, and in need of the Lord to forgive them and wash away their sins through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. He rose from the dead after that sacrifice and conquered death. He then ascended to heaven. No one else has done this or is able to.

Seriously, why would anyone choose the other option? We’re talking about eternity here. And once death arrives, there are no second chances. That’s it. It’s over. Welcome to an eternity of punishment and pain or of love, comfort, and provision.

You are loved; loved by the Creator of all things. He wants you with Him and to be in His family. Come home. Come to life, true life, eternal.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Gif courtesy Bing images.

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