Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Be Ye Perfect

I caught the end of a message by Elder Morris Venden the other day and took a few notes because I really liked what I was hearing.

Perfect in Birth

He was apparently talking about Christian growth in some aspect. He was saying that when a baby is born we say, "10 fingers, 10 toes...he's perfect." So it is with the Christian birth, when we are born from above, we are perfect in birth. Another name for this is "Justification", and what a terrific study that would be for another time. Take, for example, the thief on the cross: he was perfect in birth.

Now, as the little baby lies in the cradle making bubbling noises, saying, "goo goo, gah gah," we think, "Oh how precious this little one." Yet, if 20 years later this individual is still making the same noises, it is quite tragic. So it is with the Christian, if we're still at the same point in Christ as when we were first born again, it is a sign that something is terribly wrong.

Perfect in Growth

This is what we Christians term "Sanctification." If a 5-year-old sits on the curb and makes funny faces and noises at the neighbor children, we think it is appropriate for that age. Yet if that same individual is sitting there making funny faces and noises at the neighbor children 20 years later, we think it tragic. So it is with Christians, we should continue to grow in our likeness to the Lord, Jesus Christ. Our character should be more like His each and every day.

Perfect in Maturity

This is what we Christians term "Glorification," and it only happens at Christ's second coming. Yet is it possible to live sinless lives before the second advent? I believe the Bible is clear that it is not only possible, but expected. This, as Christians, should always be our ultimate goal. To be more and more like Christ every day.

Christ said, "Be ye perfect." (Matthew 5:48) Furthermore He told the woman caught in adultery, "Go and sin no more." (John 8:11, emphasis added) Again we find it written, "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1, emphasis added)

Is God just playing with us? I don't think so, friends. He means what He says. You can look at these verses as a promise from God that it is possible for us to live a victorious life!

Does this mean we don't need a Saviour? Not at all. We will always need a Saviour, for "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23).

God is more powerful than Satan. He is more powerful than sin. It is through Him that we can keep from sin because "all things are possible to him that believes." (Mark 9:23) Again it is written, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13) Also, "But as many as received Him, to them He gave power to become the sons of God." (John 1:12)

These things are only possible if we keep our eyes on Christ. Keeping our focus on Jesus is the only way we can receive His power. If we begin looking at ourselves, we have lost. Charles Spurgeon said, "I looked at Jesus, and the dove of peace flew into my heart.I looked at the dove of peace, and she flew away."

If we begin to examine ourselves, saying, "How far have I come? Am I perfect yet? How close am I?" etc. etc., we begin looking at ourselves instead of Christ. "If I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse." (Job 9:20) The key is not to dwell on the subject, or to be measuring yourself. Because it is God's work to sanctify you, let Him dwell on it. For our part, we simply keep our eyes on Him.

If we keep our eyes on Jesus, He will give us power to overcome. If we take our eyes off of Him, we will be overcome. Elder Venden said that while trying to illustrate this point to a group of young men, he went to the closet and pulled out a broom. He put the end of the broom handle in his hand and began balancing it in his palm. Have you ever tried this? The only way to keep balancing the broom is to never take your eyes off the top of the broom. If you look anywhere else, it will fall. He asked a couple young men to try to balance the broom in their palm while looking at their hand, or at the base of the broom...it was impossible. So it is with us and Christ.

Elder Venden closed with the trademark line:

There are 4 things God doesn't know:

He does not know a sin that He doesn't hate,
He does not know a sinner that He doesn't love,
He does not know a sin that He won't forgive,
And He does not know a better time than now.

God bless you and keep you all!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What I Want (For Christmas?)

I want to gather like-minded Christians together for small-group Bible studies.

I want to have fellowship with others who are loyal to our King.

I want to sharpen and challenge each other, until our sword of the Spirit becomes a blade like a razor, and we wield it with skill, for Christ.

I want this unit of Christ's warriors to take up the whole armor of God, that we may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. I want us to stand, therefore, having girded our waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which we will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And taking the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Praying always with all prayer and supplication for all the saints.

I want these fellow servants of the King to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, for our Lord commanded us to do this.

I want to give food to those who are hungry, drink to those who are thirsty, clothes to those who are cold and naked. For our Lord commanded us to do this!

I want to go where the people are gathered, in the malls and on the streets, shining light on those who are in darkness! I want to give hundreds of people booklets that reveal the truth about our God. I want to leave Bible studies everywhere, like hidden mines ready to explode with truth when someone finds them. I do not want to sit idly by while the enemy of souls is destroying my King's children.

I want to invite people to come and watch presentations of Bible-study seminars.

I want to tell them that all the signs are being fulfilled, that time is short and Christ is coming soon. I want to tell them ahead of time what will happen, so that when it comes to pass they will see and know the truth.

I want to cut them out of the world with the great cleaver of truth!

I want to draw nearer to Christ by sharing in His work.

I want to say, "Lord, what would Thou have me to do?"

I want to say, "Not my will, but Thy will be done."

I want to say each morning, "Father, only You know what tomorrow brings, but today, my Lord, I am Yours."

I want you to watch the videos at the bottom of this page!

Is the Devil in Charge of Hell? (Hell)

Well? Does God really keep the devil on His payroll - is he the chief superintendent of hell measuring out the punishment of the lost? Nearly the entire world holds to a very unbiblical view about hell, and you owe it to yourself to know what the Bible really says about it. Don't be fooled, because what you think about hell certainly affects what you think about God's character! Take a few moments to get the amazing facts you need to know today!

How Many lost souls are being punished in hell today?

"The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished" (2 Peter 2:9, KJV).

There is not one single soul in hellfire today. The Bible says that God reserves, or holds back, the wicked until the day of judgment to be punished.

When will sinners be cast into hellfire?

"So it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire" (Matthew 13:40-42). "The word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day" (John 12:48).

Sinners will be cast into hellfire at the great judgment day at the end of the world - not when they die. God would not punish a person in fire until his case was tried and decided in court at the end of the world. Nor would God burn a murderer who died 5,000 years ago 5,000 years longer than one who dies and deserves punishment for the same sin today (Genesis 18:25).

Where are sinners (who have died) now?

"The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth - those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation" (John 5:28, 29). "That the wicked is reserved to the day of destruction?" "Yet shall he be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the tomb" (Job 21:30, 32, KJV).

The Bible is specific. Both the wicked and the righteous who have died are in the graves "sleeping" until the resurrection day.

What is the end result of sin?

"The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). "Sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death" (James 1:15). "God ... gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

The wages (or punishment) for sin is death, not everlasting life in hellfire. The wicked "perish," or receive "death." The righteous receive "everlasting life."

What will happen to the wicked in hellfire?

"But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8).

The wicked die the second death in hellfire. If the wicked lived forever being tortured in hell, they would be immortal. But this is impossible, because the Bible says God "alone has immortality" (1 Timothy 6:16). When Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden of Eden, an angel was posted to guard the tree of life so that sinners would not eat of the tree and "live forever." (Genesis 3:22-24). The teaching that sinners are immortal in hell originated with Satan and is completely untrue. God prevented this when sin entered this earth by guarding the tree of life.

The Bible is clear, the wicked are obliterated. The Bible says the wicked suffer "death" (Romans 6:23), will suffer "doom" [destruction] (Job 21:30), "shall perish" (Psalm 37:20), "shall be cut off" (Psalm 37:9), "shall be slain" (Psalm 62:3). God will "destroy" them (Psalm 145:20), and "fire shall devour them" (Psalm 21:9). Note that all of these references make it clear that the wicked die and are destroyed. They do not live forever in misery.

When and how will hellfire be kindled?

"So it will be at the end of this age. The Son of man ... will cast them into the furnace of fire" (Matthew 13:40-42). "They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them" (Revelation 20:9). "The righteous will be recompensed on the earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner" (Proverbs 11:31).

At the end of the world, God Himself will kindle hellfire. As the holy city comes down from God out of heaven (Revelation 21:2), the wicked attempt to capture it. At that time, God will rain down fire from heaven upon the earth, and it will devour the wicked. This fire is Bible hellfire.

How big and how hot will hellfire be?

"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up" (2 Peter 3:10).

Hellfire will be just as big as this earth because it will be the earth on fire. This fire will be so hot as to melt the earth and burn up all "the works that are in it." The atmospheric heavens will explode and "pass away with a great noise."

How long will the wicked suffer in the fire?

"And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work" (Revelation 22:12). "And then He will reward each according to his works" (Matthew 16:27). "And that servant who knew his master's will, and did not ... do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few" (Luke 12:47, 48).

The Bible does not tell how long the wicked will be punished before receiving death in the fire. God does specifically state, however, that all will be punished according to their deeds. This means some will receive greater punishment than others, based upon their works.

Will the fire eventually go out?

"Behold, they shall be as stubble, the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame; it shall not be a coal to be warmed by, nor a fire to sit before!" (Isaiah 47:14). "Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth." "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:1, 4).

Yes, indeed, the Bible specifically teaches that hellfire will go out and that there will not be left "a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before!" The Bible also teaches that in God's new kingdom all "former things" will be passed away. Hell, being one of the former things, is included, so we have God's promise that it will be abolished.

Is God a Torturer?
If God tortured His enemies in a fiery horror chamber throughout eternity, He would be more vicious and heartless than men have ever been in the worse of war atrocities. An eternal hell of torment would be hell for God also, who loves even the vilest sinner.

What will be left when the fire goes out?

"'For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,' says the LORD of hosts, 'That will leave them neither root nor branch.'" "'You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this,' says the LORD of hosts" (Malachi 4:1, 3).

Notice the verse does not say the wicked will burn like asbestos, as many today believe, but rather like stubble, which will be burned up. The little word "up" denotes completion. Nothing but ashes will be left when the fire goes out. In Psalm 37:10, 20, the Bible says the wicked will go up in smoke and be completely destroyed.

Will the wicked enter hell in bodily form and be destroyed both soul and body?

"It is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell" (Matthew 5:30). "Rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28). "The soul who sins shall die" (Ezekiel 18:20).

Yes. Real, live people enter hell in bodily form and are destroyed both soul and body. The fire from God out of heaven will fall upon real people and blot them out of existence.

Will the devil be in charge of hellfire?

"The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:10). "I turned you to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all who saw you. ... You ... shall be no more forever" (Ezekiel 28:18, 19).

Absolutely not! The devil will be cast into the fire, and it will turn him into ashes.

Does the word "hell" as used in the Bible always refer to a place of burning or punishment?

No, the word "hell" is used 54 times in the Bible, and in only 12 cases does it refer to "a place of burning."
The word "hell" is translated from several different words with various meanings, as indicated below:

In the Old Testament
31 times from "Sheol," which means "the grave."

In the New Testament
10 times from "Hades," which means "the grave."
12 times from "Gehenna," which means "the place of burning."
1 time from "Tartarus," which means "a place of darkness."

54 times total

Note: The Greek word "Gehenna" (mentioned above) is a transliteration of the Hebrew "Ge-Hinnom," which means the "Valley of Hinnom." This valley, which lies immediately south and west of Jerusalem, was a place where dead animals, garbage, and other refuse were dumped. Fire burned constantly, as it does at modern sanitation dump sites. The Bible uses "Gehenna" or the "Valley of Hinnom" as a symbol of the fire that will destroy the lost at the end of time. The fire of Gehenna was not unending. Otherwise it would be still burning southwest of Jerusalem today. Neither will the fire of hell be unending.

What is God's real purpose in hellfire?

"Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41). "And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:15). "For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more." "The enemies of the LORD ... shall vanish. Into smoke they shall vanish away" (Psalm 37:10, 20).

God's purpose is that hell will destroy the devil and all sin and sinners and make the world safe for eternity. One sinner, if left on this planet, would be a deadly virus forever threatening the universe. It is God's plan to blot sin out of existence for all time.

Eternal Hell Would Perpetuate Sin
An eternal hell of torment would perpetuate sin and make its eradication impossible. An eternal hell of torment is not part of God's great plan at all. Such a horrible theory is slander against the holy name of a loving God. The devil delights to see our loving Creator pictured as such a monstrous tyrant, and he alone can benefit from such teachings.

Eternal Hell a Man-made Theory
The "eternal hell of torment" theory originated not from the Bible, but from misguided people who were (perhaps inadvertently) led of the devil. And, incidentally, while a fear of hell may get our attention, our salvation is the result of learning to love and obey Christ.

Isn't the work of destroying sinners foreign to God's nature?

"'As I live,' says the Lord GOD, 'I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die?'" (Ezekiel 33:11). "For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them" (Luke 9:56). "For the LORD will rise up ... that He may do His work, His awesome work, and bring to pass His act, His unusual act" (Isaiah 28:21).

Yes, the work of God has always been to save rather than destroy. The work of destroying the wicked in hellfire is so foreign to God's nature that the Bible calls it His "strange act." God's great heart will ache at the destruction of the wicked. Oh, how diligently He works to save every soul! But if one spurns His love and clings to sin, God will have no choice but to destroy the sinner with his sin when He rids the universe of that horrible, malignant growth called "sin" in the fires of the last day.

What are God's post-hell plans for the earth and His people?

"He will make an utter end of it. Affliction will not rise up a second time" (Nahum 1:9). "For behold, I create a new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind" (Isaiah 65:17). "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. there shall be no more pain" (Revelation 21:3, 4).

After hellfire goes out, God will create a new earth and restore it to His people - with all the beauties and glories of Eden before sin entered. The horrors of sin and the past will be forgotten. Pain, death, tragedy, woe, tears, sickness, disappointment, sorrow, and all sin will be banished forever.

Sin Will Not Rise Again
God promises that sin will never rise again. His people will be filled with perfect peace, love, joy, and contentment. Their lives of complete happiness will be far more glorious and thrilling than mere words could ever describe. The real tragedy of hell is in missing heaven. A person who fails to enter this magnificent kingdom has made the saddest choice of a lifetime.

Doesn't the Bible speak of "eternal torment"?

No, the phrase "eternal torment" does not appear in the Bible.

Then why does the Bible say that the wicked will be destroyed with unquenchable fire?

Unquenchable fire is fire that cannot be put out, but which goes out when it has turned everything to ashes. Jeremiah 17:27 says Jerusalem was to be destroyed with unquenchable fire, and in 2 Chronicles 36:19-21 the Bible says this fire burned the city "to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah" and left it desolate. Yet we know this fire went out, because Jerusalem is not burning today.

Doesn't Matthew 25:46 say the wicked will receive "everlasting punishment"?

Notice the word is punishment, not punishing. Punishing would be continuous, while punishment is one act. The punishment of the wicked is death, and this death is everlasting.

Can you explain Matthew 10:28: "Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul"?

The word "soul" has three meanings in the Bible: (1) a living being - Genesis 2:7, (2) the mind - Psalm 139:14, and (3) life - 1 Samuel 18:1, which here refers to eternal life that God guarantees all who reach His kingdom. No one can take this away. The last part of Matthew 10:28 says both soul and body will be destroyed in hell.

Matthew 25:41 speaks of "everlasting fire" for the wicked. Does it go out?

Yes, according to the Bible, it does. We must let the Bible explain itself. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed with everlasting, or eternal, fire (Jude 7), and that fire turned them "into ashes" as a warning to "those who afterward would live ungodly" (2 Peter 2:6). These cities are not burning today. The fire went out after everything was burned up. Likewise, everlasting fire will go out after it has turned the wicked to ashes (Malachi 4:3). The effects of the fire are everlasting, but not the burning itself.

Doesn't the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31 teach an eternal hell of torment?

No, indeed! It is simply a parable used to emphasize a point. Many facts make it clear that this is a parable. A few are as follows:
-Abraham's bosom is not heaven (Hebrews 11:8-10, 16).
-People in hell can't talk to those in heaven (Isaiah 65:17).
-The dead are in their graves (Job 17:13 ; John 5:28, 29). The rich man was in bodily form with eyes, a tongue, etc., yet we know that the body does not go to hell at death. It is very obvious that the body remains in the grave, as the Bible says.
-Men are rewarded at Christ's second coming, not at death (Revelation 22:11, 12).
-The lost are punished in hell at the end of the world, not when they die (Matthew 13:40-42).
The point of the story is found in verse 31 of Luke 16. Parables cannot be taken literally. If we took parables literally, then we must believe that trees talk! (See this parable in Judges 9:8-15.)

But the Bible speaks of the wicked being tormented "forever," doesn't it?

The term "for ever," as used in the Bible, means simply a period of time, limited or unlimited. It is used 56 times in the Bible in connection with things that have already ended. (To check in a concordance, look up the word "ever.") It is like the word "tall," which means something different in describing men, trees, or mountains. In Jonah 2:6, "forever" means "three days and nights." (See also Jonah 1:17.) In Deuteronomy 23:3, this means "10 generations." In the case of man, this means "as long as he lives" or "until death." (See 1 Samuel 1:22, 28 ; Exodus 21:6 ; Psalm 48:14.) So the wicked will burn in the fire as long as they live, or until death. This fiery punishment for sin will vary according to the degree of sins for each individual, but after the punishment, the fire will go out. The teaching of eternal torment has done more to drive people to atheism and insanity than any other invention of the devil. It is slander upon the loving character of a tender, gracious heavenly Father and has done untold harm to the Christian cause.

I want to again thank Amazing Facts for this Bible study. How wonderful to realize that we don't serve a God who would burn people in hell for the ceaseless ages of eternity! I could never serve such a God. How could anyone who calls themselves Christians be happy in heaven knowing that somewhere in the universe people are being endlessly tormented. Praise God for His mercy! We can surely trust the Lord and His plans!

God bless you and keep you!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Are the Dead Really Dead? (State of the Dead)

Death just might be one of the most misunderstood subjects today. To many it is shrouded in mystery and evokes dreaded feelings of fear, uncertainty, and even hopelessness. Others believe that their deceased loved ones are not dead at all, but instead live with them or in other realms! Still others are confused about the relationship between the body, spirit, and soul. But does it really matter what you believe? Yes...absolutely! Because what you believe about the dead will have a profound impact on what happens to you in the end-times. There's no room for guessing, so this Study Guide will give you exactly what God says on this subject. Get ready for a real eye-opener!

How did we get here in the first place?

"And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being" (Genesis 2:7).

God made us from dust in the beginning.

What happens when a person dies?

"Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it." (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

The body returns to dust again, and the spirit goes back to God, who gave it. The spirit of every person who dies - whether righteous or wicked - returns to God at death.

What is the "spirit" that returns to God at death?

"The body without the spirit is dead" (James 2:26). "The spirit of God is in my nostrils" (Job 27:3, KJV).

The spirit that returns to God at death is the breath of life. Nowhere in all of God's book does the "spirit" have any life, wisdom, or feeling after a person dies. It is the "breath of life" and nothing more.

What is a "soul"?

"And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Genesis 2:7, KJV).

A soul is a living being. A soul is always a combination of two things: body plus breath. Body (dust) - Breath (spirit) = Death (no soul). A soul cannot exist unless body and breath are combined. God's Word teaches that we are souls.

Do souls die?

"The soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:20, KJV). "Every living soul died in the sea" (Revelation 16:3, KJV).

According to God's Word, souls do die! We are souls, and souls die. Man is mortal (Job 4:17). Only God is immortal (1 Timothy 6:15, 16). The concept of an undying, immortal soul goes against the Bible, which teaches that souls are subject to death.

Do good people go to heaven when they die?

"All who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth" (John 5:28,29). "David ... is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day." "For David did not ascend into the heavens" (Acts 2:29, 34). "If I wait, the grave is mine house" (Job 17:13, KJV).

No, people do not go either to heaven or hell at death. they go to their graves to await the resurrection day.

How much does one know or comprehend after death?

"For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun." "There is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going" (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6, 10). "The dead do not praise the LORD" (Psalm 115:17).

God says that the dead know absolutely nothing!

But can't the dead communicate with the living, and aren't they aware of what the living are doing?

"So man lies down and does not rise. Till the heavens are no more, they will not awake nor be roused from their sleep." "His sons come to honor, and he does not know it; they are brought low, and he does not perceive it" (Job 14:12, 21). "Nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 9:6).

No, the dead cannot contact the living, nor do they know what the living are doing. They are dead. Their thoughts have perished (Psalm 146:4).

Jesus called the unconscious state of the dead "sleep" in John 11:11-14. How long will they sleep?

"So man lies down and does not rise. Till the heavens are no more" (Job 14:12). "The day of the Lord will come ... in which the heavens will pass away" (2 Peter 3:10).

The dead will sleep until the great day of the Lord at the end of the world. In death humans are totally unconscious with no activity or knowledge of any kind.

What happens to the righteous dead at the second coming of Christ?

"And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work" (Revelation 22:12). "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, ... And the dead in Christ will rise ... And thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17). "We shall all be changed - in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, ... and the dead will be raised incorruptible. ... For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).

They will be rewarded. They will be raised, given immortal bodies, and caught up to meet the Lord in the air. There would be no purpose in a resurrection if people were taken to heaven at death.

What was the devils' first lie on Earth?

"Then the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not surely die'" (Genesis 3:4). "That serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan" (Revelation 12:9).

You will not die.

Why did the devil lie to Eve about death? Could this subject be more important than many think?

It is one of the pillars of the devil's teachings. He has worked powerful miracles down through the ages through people who claim to receive their power from the spirits of the dead. (Examples: Magicians of Egypt - Exodus 7:11 ; Woman of Endor - 1 Samuel 28:3-25 ; Sorcerers - Daniel 2:2 ; A certain slave girl - Acts 16:16-18.)

A Solemn Warning
In the end-time Satan will again use sorcery - as he did in Daniel's day - to deceive the world (Revelation 18:23). Sorcery is a supernatural agency that claims to receive its power and wisdom from the spirits of the dead.

Posing as Jesus' Disciples
Posing as godly loved ones who have died, saintly clergymen who are now dead, Bible prophets, or even the apostles or disciples of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:13), Satan and his angels will deceive billions. Those who believe the dead are alive, in any form, will most assuredly be deceived.

Do devils really work miracles?

"For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles" (Revelation 16:14, KJV). "For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect" (Matthew 24:24).

Yes, indeed! Devils work incredibly convincing miracles (Revelation 13:13, 14). Satan and his angels will appear as angels of light (2 Corinthians 11:14) and, even more shocking, as Christ Himself (Matthew 24:23, 24). The universal feeling will be that Christ and His angels are leading out in a fantastic worldwide revival. The entire emphasis will seem so spiritual and so super-natural that only God's elect will not be deceived.

Why will God's people not be deceived?

"They received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11). "If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (Isaiah 8:20).

God's people will know from their earnest study of His book that the dead are dead, not alive. Spirits of the dead do not exist. Therefore, God's people will reject all miracle workers and teachers who claim to receive special "light" or work miracles by contacting the spirits of the dead. And God's people will likewise reject as dangerous and false all teachings that claim the dead are alive in any form, anywhere.

Back in Moses' day, what did God command should be done to people who taught that the dead were alive?

"A man or a woman who is a medium, or who has familiar spirits, shall surely be put to death; they shall stone them with stones" (Leviticus 20:27).

God insisted that mediums and others with "familiar spirits" (who claimed to be able to contact the dead) should be stoned to death. This shows how God regards the false teaching that the dead are alive.

Will the righteous people who are raised in the resurrection ever die again?

"But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, ... nor can they die anymore" (Luke 20:35, 36). "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:4).

No! Death, sorrow, crying, and tragedy will never enter into God's new kingdom. "So when this corruptible has put in incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory'" (1 Corinthians 15:54).

Belief in reincarnation is expanding rapidly today. Is this teaching biblical?

"For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing. ... Nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6).

Almost half the people on earth believe in reincarnation - a teaching that the soul never dies but is instead continually reborn in a different kind of body with each succeeding generation. This teaching, however, is contrary to Scripture.

The Bible Says
After death a person: returns to dust (Psalm 104:29), knows nothing (Ecclesiastes 9:5), possesses no mental powers (Psalm 146:4), has nothing to do with anything on earth (Ecclesiastes 9:6), does not live (2 Kings 20:1), waits in the grave (Job 17:13), and continues not (Job 14:1, 2).

Satan's Invention
We learned in questions 11 and 12 that Satan invented the teaching that the dead are alive. Reincarnation, channeling, communication with spirits, spirit worship, and the "undying soul" are all inventions of Satan, with one aim - to convince people that when you die you are not really dead. When people believe that the dead are alive, "spirits of devils, working miracles" (Revelation 16:14) and posing as spirits of the dead will be able to deceive and lead them astray virtually 100 percent of the time (Matthew 24:24).

Didn't the thief on the cross go to paradise with Christ the day He died?

No. In fact, on Sunday morning Jesus said to Mary, "I have not yet ascended to My Father" (John 20:17). This shows that Christ did not go to heaven at death. Also note that the punctuation of the Bible is not inspired, but was added by men. The comma in Luke 23:43 should be placed after the word "today" rather than before, so the passage should read, "Assuredly I say to you today, you will be with Me in paradise." Or, "I'm telling you today - when it seems that I can save no one, when I myself am being crucified as a criminal - I give you the assurance today that you will be with me in paradise." Christ's kingdom is set up at His second coming (Matthew 25:31), and all the righteous of all ages will enter it at that time (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17) and not at death.

Doesn't the Bible speak of the "undying," "immortal" soul?

No, the undying, immortal soul is not mentioned in the Bible. The word "immortal" is found only once in the Bible, and it is in reference to God (1 Timothy 1:17).

At death the body returns to dust and the spirit (or breath) returns to God. But where does the soul go?

It goes nowhere. Instead, it simply ceases to exist. Two things must be combined to make a soul: body and breath. When the breath departs, the soul ceases to exist because it is a combination of two things. When you turn off a light, where does the light go? It doesn't go anywhere. It just ceases to exist. Two things must combine to make light: a bulb and electricity. Without the combination, a light is impossible. So with the soul; unless body and breath are combined, there can be no soul. There is no such thing as a disembodied soul.

Does the word "soul" ever mean anything other than a living being?

Yes, it may mean also (1) life itself, or (2) the mind, or intellect. No matter which meaning is intended, the soul is still a combination of two things (body and breath), and it ceases to exist at death.

Can you explain John 11:26, which says, "whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die"?

This refers not to the first death, which all people die (Hebrews 9:27), but to the second death, which only the wicked die and from which there is no resurrection (Revelation 2:11 ; 21:8).

Matthew 10:28 says, "Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul." Doesn't this prove that the soul is undying?

No, it proves the opposite. The last half of the same verse proves that souls do die. It says, "but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" The word "soul" here means life and refers to eternal life, which is a gift (Romans 6:23) that will be given to the righteous at the last day (John 6:54). No one can take away eternal life that God bestows. (See also Luke 12:4, 5.)

Doesn't 1 Peter 4:6 say the gospel was preached to dead people?

No, it says the gospel "was" preached to those who "are" dead. They are dead now, but the gospel "was" preached to them while they were yet living.

What about the souls crying out from under the altar in Revelation 6:9, 10? Doesn't this show that souls do not die?

No. This cry was figurative, as was the cry of Abel's blood (Genesis 4:10). The word "soul" here means people (or living beings) who had been slain for their faith. Surely no one believes that souls who die literally lie under the altar, nor do people believe that the righteous beg God to punish their enemies. Rather, the righteous beg for mercy for their enemies, as Christ did on the cross (Luke 23:34).

Doesn't the Bible say Christ went and preached to lost souls in hell between His crucifixion and resurrection?

No, the Bible passage in question is 1 Peter 3:18-20. The preaching was done "by the Spirit" (verse 18) in Noah's day - to people who were then living (verses 19, 20). The "spirits in prison" refers to people whose lives were in bondage to Satan. (See Psalm 142:7 ; Isaiah 42:6, 7 ; 61:1 ; Luke 4:18.)

Again thanks to Amazing Facts for this Bible study.

Friends, these are just a fraction of the verses in the Bible about what happens when we die. I implore you to do your own study. All you need is an exaustive concordance (e.g. Strong's concordance, available at any Christian bookstore) and a Bible. Study the words "death", "dead", and especially "sleep". Praise God for your decision to follow God's Word instead of man's traditions.

I hope my sore hands after typing these long studies is worth it, and it certainly is if even one person learns what the Bible says about death.

God bless you and keep you!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Written in Stone (Law/Grace)

Centuries ago, God wrote His law in stone, and you're still supposed to keep it today! It's absolutely true that violating any part of God's law always brings negative consequences. As crime overruns our cities, doesn't it make sense that for peace and safety we need to obey the laws of the land? Well, this same principle applies to God's law - the Ten Commandments - in our own lives too!

They aren't called the ten suggestions, ten recommendations, or the ten great ideas. Since so much is at stake, you should take a few minutes to seriously consider your responsibility.

Did God Himself really write the Ten Commandments?

"He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God."..."Now the tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God engraved on the tablets" (Exodus 31:18; 32:16).

Yes, the great God of heaven wrote the Ten Commandments on the tablets of stone with His own finger.

What is God's definition of sin?

"Sin is lawlessness" (1 John 3:4)

Sin is breaking God's Ten Commandment law. And since the law of God is perfect (Psalm 19:7), its principles cover every conceivable sin. It is impossible to commit a sin that is not condemned by at least one of God's Ten Commandments. The commandments cover "man's all [the whole duty of man]" (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Nothing is left out.

Why did God give us the Ten Commandments?

"Happy is he who keeps the law" (Proverbs 29:18). "Keep my commands; For length of days and long life and peace they will add to you" (Proverbs 3:1,2).

As a guide for happy, abundant living. God created us to enjoy happiness, peace, long life, contentment, accomplishment, and all the other great blessings for which our hearts long. God's law is the road map that points out the right paths to follow in order to find this true, supreme happiness.

"by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20). "I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, 'You shall not covet'" (Romans 7:7).

To show me the difference between right and wrong. God's law is like a mirror (James 1:23-25). It points out wrongdoing in my life as a mirror points out dirt on my face. The only possible way for a person to know if he is sinning is for him to carefully check his life by the mirror of God's law. Hope for this mixed-up, sinking generation is found in God's Ten Commandment law. It tells where to draw the line!

"And the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes [commandments] ... for our good always" (Deuteronomy 6:24). "Hold me up, and I shall be safe, and I shall observe all Your statutes continually. You reject all those who stray from Your statutes" (Psalm 119:117,118).

To protect me from danger and tragedy. God's law is like a strong cage at the zoo, which protects us from fierce, destructive animals. It protects us from impurity, falsehood, murder, idolatry, theft, and many other evils that destroy life, peace, and happiness. All good laws protect, and God's law is no exception.

"Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments" (1 John 2:3).

It helps us to know God.

The eternal principles of God's law are written deep in every person's nature by the God who created us. The writing may be dim and smudged, but it is still there. This means, of course, that you cannot find true peace unless you are willing to live in harmony with your inner nature, upon which God has written these principles. We were created to live in harmony with them. When we choose to ignore them, the result is always tension, unrest, and tragedy - just as ignoring the rules for safe driving leads to serious trouble.

Why is God's law exceedingly important to me personally?

"So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty" (James 2:12).

Because the Ten Commandment law is the standard by which God examines people in the heavenly judgment. How are you measuring up? It is a life-or-death matter!

Can God's law (the Ten Commandments) ever be changed or abolished?

"It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail" (Luke 16:17). "My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips" (Psalm 89:34). "All His precepts [commandments] are sure. They stand fast forever and ever" (Psalm 111:7,8).

Absolutely not! The Bible is very clear on this point. If the law could have been changed, God would have immediately made that change when Adam and Eve sinned instead of sending His Son to die in the sinner's behalf to pay the penalty of the broken law. This was impossible. The commandments are revealed principles of God's holy character that will always be true as long as God exists.

God is good (Luke 18:19), the law is good (1 Timothy 1:8).
God is holy (Isaiah 5:16), the law is holy (Romans 7:12).
God is perfect (Matthew 5:48), the law is perfect (Psalm 19:7).
God is pure (1 John 3:2,3), the law is pure (Psalm 19:8).
God is just (Deuteronomy 32:4), the law is just (Romans 7:12).
God is true (John 3:33), the law is true (Psalm 19:9).
God is spiritual (1 Corinthians 10:4), the law is spiritual (Romans 7:14).
God is righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6), the law is righteousness (Psalm 119:172).
God is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9), the law is faithful (Psalm 119:86).
God is love (1 John 4:8), the law is love (Romans 13:10).
God is unchangeable (James 1:17), the law is unchangeable (Matthew 5:18).
God is eternal (Genesis 21:33), the law is eternal (Psalm 111:7,8).

Notice on the above chart that God and His law have the same characteristics. Do you see what this means? The Ten Commandment law is God's character in written form - written so we can comprehend it. It is no more possible to change God's law than to pull God out of heaven and change Him. Jesus came to show us what the law (which is the pattern for holy living) looked like when made up in human form. God's character can never change. Neither can His law, for it is His character in human language.

Did Jesus abolish God's law while He was here on earth?

"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law. ... I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. ... Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled" (Matthew 5:17,18).

No, indeed! Jesus specifically asserted that He did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill (or keep) it. Instead of doing away with the law, Jesus magnified it (Isaiah 42:21) as the perfect guide for right living. For example, Jesus pointed out that "You shall not murder" condemns anger "without cause" (Matthew 5:21,22) and hatred (1 John 3:15), and that lust is adultery (Matthew 5:27,28). He says, "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15).

Will people who knowingly continue to break even one of God's commandments be saved?

"The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). "He will destroy its sinners from it" (Isaiah 13:9). "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all" (James 2:10).

The Ten Commandment law is the guide we must use in finding our way to God and holy living. If I ignore even one of the commandments, I am neglecting part of the divine pattern, or blueprint. If only one link of a chain is broken, its entire purpose is undone. The Bible says that when we knowingly break any command of God, we are sinning (James 4:17), because we have refused His will for us. Only those who do His will can enter the kingdom of heaven. Of course, God will forgive anyone who genuinely repents and accepts Christ's power to change.

Can anyone be saved by keeping the law?

"By the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight" (Romans 3:20). "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Ephesians 2:8,9).

No! The answer is too plain to miss. No one can be saved by keeping the law. Salvation comes only through grace, as a free gift from Jesus Christ, and we receive this gift by faith, not by works. The law serves only as a mirror to point out sin in our lives. Cleansing and forgiveness from that sin come only through Christ.

Why, then, is the law an absolute essential for perfecting Christian character?

"Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all [whole duty]" (Ecclesiastes 12:13). "By the law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20).

Because the full pattern, or "whole duty," for Christian living is contained in God's law. Like a 6-year-old boy who made his own ruler, measured himself, and told his mother that he was 12 feet tall, our own standards are never safe. I cannot know whether I am a sinner unless I look carefully into the perfect standard - God's law-mirror. Millions who have cast out devils, prophesied, and done many wonderful works in Jesus' name will be lost (Matthew 7:21-23) because they did not bother to check their lives with His great law-pattern. Hence, they think they are righteous and saved when, instead, they are sinful and lost. "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments" (1 John 2:3).

What enables a truly converted Christian to follow the pattern of God's law?

"I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts" (Hebrews 8:10). "I can do all things through Christ" (Philippians 4:13). "God did by sending His own Son ... that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us" (Romans 8:3,4).

Christ not only pardons repentant sinners, but He restores in them the image of God. He brings them into harmony with His law through the power of His indwelling presence. "Thou shalt not" then becomes a promise that the Christian will not steal, lie, murder, etc., because Jesus lives inside and is in control. God could not change His law, but He made a blessed provision through Jesus to change the sinner so he can measure up to that law.

But isn't a Christian who has faith and is living under grace freed from keeping the law?

"For sin [breaking God's law - 1 John 3:4] shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin [break the law] because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!" (Romans 6:14,15). "do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law" (Romans 3:31).

No! The Scriptures teach the very opposite. Grace is like the governor's pardon to a prisoner. It forgives him, but it does not give him freedom to break one single law on the statute books. The forgiven person, living under grace, is under double obligation to keep the law. A person who refuses to keep God's law, saying that he is living under grace, is mistaken. He is living under disgrace.

Are the Ten Commandments of God reaffirmed in the New Testament?

Yes, and very clearly so. Look the following over very carefully.

The Law of God in the New Testament
1. "You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve" (Matthew 4:10).
2. "Little children, keep yourselves from idols" (1 John 5:21). "Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising" (Acts 17:29).
3. "That the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed" (1 Timothy 6:1).
4. "For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works" "There remains therefore a rest ["keeping of a sabbath," margin] for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His." (Hebrews 4:4,9,10).
5. "Honor your father and your mother" (Matthew 19:19).
6. "You shall not murder" (Romans 13:9).
7. "You shall not commit adultery" (Matthew 19:18).
8. "You shall not steal" (Romans 13:9).
9. "You shall not bear false witness" (Romans 13:9).
10. "You shall not covet" (Romans 7:7).

The Law of God in the Old Testament
1. "You shall have no other gods before Me" (Exodus 20:3).
2. "You shall not make for yourself a carved image - any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments" (Exodus 20:4-6).
3. "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain" (Exodus 20:7).
4. "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it" (Exodus 20:8-11).
5. "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you" (Exodus 20:12).
6. "You shall not murder" (Exodus 20:13).
7. "You shall not commit adultery" (Exodus 20:14).
8. "You shall not steal" (Exodus 20:15).
9. "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor" (Exodus 20:16).
10. "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's" (Exodus 20:17)

Are God's law and Moses' law the same?

No, they are not the same. Study the following notes and comparison carefully.

Moses' law contained the temporary, ceremonial law of the Old Testament. It regulated the priesthood, sacrifices, rituals, meat and drink offerings, etc., all of which foreshadowed the cross. This law was added "till the seed should come," and that seed was Christ (Galatians 3:16,19). The ritual and ceremony of Moses' law pointed forward to Christ's sacrifice. When He died, this law came to an end, but the Ten Commandments (God's law) "stands fast forever and ever" (Psalm 111:8). That there are two laws is made crystal clear in Daniel 9:10,11.

Please note that God's law has existed at least as long as sin has existed. The Bible says, "where there is no law there is no transgression [or sin]" (Romans 4:15). So God's Ten Commandment law existed from the beginning. Men broke that law (sinned - 1 John 3:4). Because of sin (or breaking God's law), Moses law was given (or "added" - Galatians 3:16,19) till Christ should come and die. Two separate laws are involved: God's law and Moses' law.

Moses' Law
Called "the law of Moses" (Luke 2:22)
Called "law ... contained in ordinances" (Ephesians 2:15)
Written by Moses in a book (2 Chronicles 35:12)
Placed in the side of the ark (Deuteronomy 31:26)
Ended at the cross (Ephesians 2:15)
Added because of sin (Galatians 3:19)
Contrary to us, against us (Colossians 2:14)
Judges no one (Colossians 2:14-16)
Carnal (Hebrews 7:16)
Made nothing perfect (Hebrews 7:19)

God's Law
Called "the law of the Lord" (Isaiah 5:24)
Called "the royal law" (James 2:8)
Written by God on stone (Exodus 31:18; 32:16)
Placed inside the ark (Exodus 40:20)
Will stand forever (Luke 16:17)
Points out sin (Romans 7:7; 3:20)
Not grievous (1 John 5:3)
Judges all people (James 2:10-12)
Spiritual (Romans 7:14)
Perfect (Psalm 19:7)

How does the devil feel about the people who pattern their lives after God's Ten Commandments?

"And the dragon [the devil] was enraged with the woman [true church], and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God" (Revelation 12:17). "Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God" (Revelation 14:12).

The devil hates the people who uphold God's law because the law is the pattern of right living. And if you decide to follow the pattern outlined in God's law, you will feel the devil's wrath upon you at once and with all fury. It is not surprising that the devil hates and bitterly opposes all who uphold God's law. But it is shocking and astounding to hear religious leaders denying the binding claims of the Ten Commandments while at the same time upholding the traditions of men. No wonder Jesus said, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?" "And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:3,9). And David said, "It is time for You to act, O Lord, for they have regarded Your law as void" (Psalm 119:126). Christians must wake up and restore God's law to its rightful, exalted position. It is folly for this undisciplined generation to presume that it can break the laws of the living God with impunity.

Doesn't the Bible say the law was (or is) faulty?

No, the Bible says the people were faulty. God found "fault with them." (Hebrews 8:8). And in Romans 8:3 the Bible says that the law "was weak through the flesh." It is always the same story. The law is perfect, but the people are faulty, or weak. So God would have His Son live within His people "that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us" (Romans 8:4) through the indwelling Christ.

Galatians 3:13 says we are redeemed from the curse of the law. Can you explain this?

The curse of the law is death (Romans 6:23). Christ tasted "death for everyone" (Hebrews 2:9). Thus He redeemed all from the curse of the law (death) and in its place provided eternal life.

Doesn't Colossians 2:14-17 and Ephesians 2:15 teach that God's law ended at the cross?

No, these passages both refer to the law containing "ordinances," or Moses' law, which was a ceremonial law governing the sacrificial system and the priesthood. All of this ceremony and ritual foreshadowed the cross and ended at Christ's death, as God had intended. Moses' law was added till the "Seed should come," and that "Seed ... is Christ" (Galatians 3:19,16). God's law could not be involved here, for Paul spoke of it as holy, just, and good many years after the cross (Romans 7:7,12).

The Bible says "love is the fulfillment of the law" (Romans 13:10). The Bible also, in Matthew 22:37-40, commands us to love God and to love our neighbors, and ends with the words, "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." Do these commands replace the Ten Commandments?

No, the Ten Commandments hang from these two commands like our 10 fingers hang from our two hands. They are inseparable. Love to God makes keeping the first four commandments (which concern God) a pleasure, and love toward our neighbor makes keeping the last six (which concern our neighbor) a joy. Love fulfills the law by taking away the drudgery and by making law-keeping a delight (Psalm 40:8). When we truly love a person, honoring his or her requests becomes a joy. Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15). It is impossible to love the Lord and not keep His commandments, because the Bible says, "This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3). "He who says, 'I know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (1 John 2:4).

Doesn't 2 Corinthians 3:7 teach that the law written and engraved in stone "was to be done away"?

No. The passage says that the "glory" of Moses' ministration of the law was to be done away, but not the law. Read the whole passage of 2 Corinthians 3:3-9 again, carefully. The subject is not the doing away with the law or its establishment, but rather, the change of the location of the law from "tablets of stone" to the "tablets of the heart." Under Moses' ministration the law was on stones. Under the Holy Spirit's ministration, through Christ, the law is written upon the heart (Hebrews 8:10). A rule posted on a school bulletin board becomes effective only when it enters a student's heart. Christ's ministration of the law is effective because He transfers the law to the heart of the Christian. Then keeping the law becomes a delight and a joyful way of living because the Christian has true love for both God and man.

Romans 10:4 says that "Christ is the end of the law." So it has ended, hasn't it?

"End" in this verse means purpose or object, as it does in James 5:11. The meaning is clear. To lead men to Christ - where they find righteousness - is the goal, purpose, or end of the law.

Why do so many people deny the binding claims of God's law?

"Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you" (Romans 8:7-9).

Were the righteous people of the Old Testament saved by the law?

No one has ever been saved by the law. All who have been saved in all ages have been saved by grace. This "grace ... was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began" (2 Timothy 1:9). The law only points out sin. christ alone can save. Noah "found grace" (Genesis 6:8); Moses found grace (Exodus 33:17); the Israelites in the wilderness found grace (Jeremiah 31:2); and Abel, Enoch, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and many other Old Testament worthies were saved "by faith" according to Hebrews 11. They were saved by looking forward to the cross; we, by looking back to it. The law is necessary because, like a mirror, it reveals the "dirt" in our lives. Without it, people are sinners but are not aware of it. However, the law has no saving power. It can only point out sin. Jesus, and He alone, can save a person from sin. This has always been true, even in Old Testament times (Acts 4:10, 12; 2 Timothy 1:9).

Why worry about the law? Isn't conscience a safe guide?

No! A thousand times, no! The Bible speaks of an evil conscience, a defiled conscience, and a seared conscience - none of which is safe. "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Proverbs 14:12). God says, "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool" (Proverbs 28:26).

I want to thank Amazing Facts, who placed this Bible study in my Bible. Friends, won't you make a decision today to give your heart to Christ, and through His power to begin following His commandments?

God Bless you and keep you!

Can Non-Christians (Pagans) Be Saved?

Can God save people who are not part of His Church? Let's look at some of the examples of God's relationship with pagans in the Bible.

Genesis 20:3-6, "But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, 'Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man's wife.' But Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, 'Lord, will You slay a righteous nation also? Did he not say to me, "She is my sister"? And she, even she herself said, "He is my brother." In the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands I have done this.' And God said to him in a dream, 'Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart. For I also withheld you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her.'"

So here we see a pagan king telling God, "I was living up to the light that I had, I did this in the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands." And God said, "Yes, I know you did this in the integrity of your heart." A pagan king speaking with God in integrity, and obeying Him (verse 7-15).

2 Chronicles 35:20-22, "After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by the Euphrates; and Josiah went out against him. But he sent messengers to him, saying, 'What have I to do with you, king of Judah? I have not come against you this day, but against the house with which I have war; for God commanded me to make haste. Refrain from meddling with God, who is with me, lest He destroy you.' Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself so that he might fight with him, and did not heed the words of Necho from the mouth of God. So he came to fight in the Valley of Megiddo."

Here we see God leading Necho, Pharaoh of Egypt, a pagan king, and speaking to Josiah through him! By the way, Josiah didn't heed the words of God through Necho and died in battle! The point is we see a pagan king following God!

Psalm 87:4-6, "'I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to those who know Me; behold, O Philistia and Tyre, with Ethiopia: "This one was born there."' And of Zion it will be said, 'This one and that one were born in her; and the Most High Himself shall establish her.' The LORD will record, when He registers the peoples: 'This one was born there.' Selah"

Here we see the names of Philistia, Tyre and Ethiopia, pagan nations, written in the Book of Life! Saved people from pagan nations!

Matthew 8:10-12, "When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'"

Of whom was Jesus speaking? He was speaking of a pagan Roman Centurion! Jesus said that this pagan's faith was greater than all He'd found in Israel! Amazing.

Luke 12:47,48, "'And that servant who knew his master's will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.'"

Jesus said that to whom much is given, much is required. What is the flip side of that? That statement necessarily means that to whom little is given, little is required. Did Jesus say that? Yes! So those tribes and nations and people on which very little light shines, of them very little is required. But to us in the west, who are saturated with flooding rays of God's light, of us much will be required.

Acts 10:34,35, "Then Peter opened his mouth and said: 'In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.'"

Every nation who fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.

Acts 17:22-24,30, "Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, 'Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.'"

Paul said that they were very religious. They were religious, but ignorant. This is what Paul was saying. Then in verse 30, he says,

"'Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent.'"

God overlooks pagan ignorance where there is pagan integrity! God overlooks pagan ignorance when pagans follow the light they have been given!

John 1:9, "That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world."

God gives light to every man (and woman and child) that is born into this world!

Romans 1:19,20, "Because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse."

God has shed light on people, and can be seen, through His creation...through nature. The creation testifies to every mind that there is a Creator!

In the judgement day someone may say, "God, I just didn't see it!", to which God will reply, "You saw it, I have record of it. Yes, you saw it, you just didn't want to see it."

Titus 2:11, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men."

God is a God of love, and He loves everyone, including the pagans. His grace has appeared to all men.

In the story of Jonah, the evil pagan town of Nineveh repented and were forgiven by God. But they didn't become Jews or Christians, they just became forgiven pagans.

God is a fair God. He judges every single person by the identical standard: based on the light they had. Everyone will be judged based on the light they did have, and no one will be judged based on the light they did not have.

Romans 2:11-16, "For there is no partiality with God. For as many as have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles [pagans], who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written on their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel."

When I heard this message, one thought came to my mind: Then why should we spread the Gospel? There is no need for evangelism.

This obviously is incorrect based on Christ's command to preach the Gospel to all the world, baptizing and teaching them to obey. Then the pastor answered my question! Praise God!

He said, after repeating the questions I had in my head, that the idea above is based on a faulty assumption: That all God's pagan children are living up to the light they have. That is dead wrong. Most are not living up to the little light they have. All those who practice evil with brothels, prostitution, murder, corruption, etc., they are all headed to destruction. We need to reach out to all these people. We need evangelism! Thanks to Dwight Nelson for preaching this message!

I hope you have enjoyed these scriptures. At least you will have something to think about. God bless you and keep you!