Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Day of the Lord – 2 Peter 3:10

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up. (RSV)

The “day of the Lord” is a term used in the Bible to denote a time of judgment. We usually think of it as the end of the world, but this is not always the case. When Judah was destroyed and taken into captivity, Jeremiah equated that to the day of the Lord. Lam 2:22 "As you summon to a feast day, so you summoned against me terrors on every side. In the day of the Lord's anger no one escaped or survived; those I cared for and reared, my enemy has destroyed." (NIV) On thing is very consistent about the day of the Lord – God is angry and He has had enough. Whether it is a day that has already past or it is a future judgment, God uses physical destruction to bring judgment on people.

References to the day of the Lord are warnings of what He is going to do in the future. These warnings are directed to unrepentant sinners so that they will repent and turn from the evil that He is going to judge. Isa 2:12 The Lord Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled). (NIV) Isa 13:9 Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the earth a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it. (RSV) The prophet, Isaiah, used clear and concise words to describe the day of the Lord. Think about it. It is cruel. Cruel means deliberately and remorselessly causing pain or anguish. We seldom think of our loving Heavenly Father as someone who would be cruel, but there it is in black and white. God is going to be cruel; He will demonstrate His wrath and fierce anger. There is no way of getting around this and it should make us wake up and take notice. God’s purpose in the destruction of the earth is to destroy sinners. His warnings are provided so that those who heed the warnings will repent and not suffer the wrath the will come.

At some point in time, as we know it, God is going to be fed up with sin on the earth and He will no longer be patient. We have no way of knowing when that day will come. It will be like a thief in the night. Jesus warned us in parables to be watching. Luke 12:39-40 “But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." (NIV)

What does it mean to be watching? Since His wrath will be against sinners, then the obvious thing a watcher must do is to get out of the “sinner” crowd and into the “holy” crowd. In Matt 25:1-12 Jesus tells of a parable of ten virgins, five wise and five foolish. What was the distinction between the two groups of virgins or between the “sinner” crowd and the “holy” crowd that the virgins represent? The wise virgins had enough oil to last the night and the foolish didn’t. They were prepared the others were not. The “sinner” crowd isn’t prepared because they still cling to their sins. They don’t have the oil of the Holy Spirit because they have never repented from their sins and put their faith in Jesus for salvation. They may think they are “spiritual” but they don’t have the only spirit that matters, the Holy Spirit.

In the parable, the foolish bang on the door to get in but the bridegroom says he doesn’t know them. The “sinner” crowd may even say they know Jesus but their actions show that they don’t. They had all the time necessary to get prepared, they had the company of the wise virgins and could see that they were prepared, but they put off the decision too long. Just as the bridegroom says he doesn’t know the foolish virgins, so Jesus will tell the sinners it is too late on the day of the Lord. They will face the full fury of the Lord.

Just as the wise virgins are given entrance to the wedding supper, so the “holy” crowd will be taken out of the way of God’s wrath when it is finally demonstrated. 1 Thess 5:9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. (NIV) The meaning is very clear. We, who have put our total faith in Jesus for salvation, will not undergo God’s wrath. We may have to suffer in many ways, but that is not His wrath. Go back to the verse in Isaiah and think about His wrath. It is cruel and fierce. When we suffer in this world it is not because God is cruel or angry with us. When God becomes cruel and wrathful against sinners, we don’t want to be anywhere near them.

Sometimes, we do suffer because we have been associating with sinners or we are simply living in sinful world. When God brings judgment on them, it causes us pain. When anyone sins, it causes us pain. Even though Jeremiah didn’t partake in the sins of Judah, he suffered loss when God judged them.

However, the day of the Lord that we are looking forward to is not like the day of the Lord that God brought upon Judah. It is more like the judgment of Korah’s rebellion. Num 16:23-24 Then the Lord said to Moses, "Say to the assembly, 'Move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.'" (NIV) God calls us to be separate from sinners even when we live in the world. We don’t want to be in harm’s way when God does judge them.

I think there is going to be at least three more days of the Lord. The first is when Jesus returns for His Bride, the Church. 1 Thess 4:16-17 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (NIV) This is what we call the rapture of the church. God will separate us from sinners and will then execute judgment on them. Jesus spoke of this in Matt 24:40-41 and Luke 17:34-35 when He said one will be taken and the other left. At this point the great tribulation will begin.

During the great tribulation there will be some people who become Christians and separate themselves from the “sinner” crowd. At the end of the tribulation, there will be another day of the Lord. Again, the Lord will separate sinners from the righteous. Jesus spoke of this time in Matt 13:37-43 when He explained the parable of the weeds in the field. Matt 13:41-42 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (NIV) Note the difference between these verses where the wicked are gathered up and tossed in the fire and the verses in 1 Thess 4:16-17 where the righteous are caught up. This second day of the Lord will occur when Jesus comes back in Rev 19. The separation is also previewed in Rev 14:14-20 where an angle swings his sickle on the earth to reap a harvest and put them in winepress of God’s wrath.

The third day of the lord will be the very last one and is the one that Peter talks about. It is described in Rev 20:7-21:1. During the millennial reign of Christ, there will be unbelievers. It is hard to imagine that people would not accept Jesus as Lord and Savior when He is physically present on earth. However, there will be billion as is demonstrated at the end. Satan will gather all those who oppose Christ and they will march against Him as He reigns in Jerusalem. Poof! Fire from heaven, end of the world, new heaven and new earth. It will be quick and it will be final. It will be the last day of the Lord as believers enter into eternity in the presence of God and unbelievers enter eternity in hell.

I wrote two novels to describe how the events before this last day of the Lord might happen. The Sovereign Reigns, or Does He? (part 1) and The Sovereign’s Last Battle (part II.) They are out of print but Amazon may have a couple left. I have a few left in the garage and you buy them from me.

Click on the button to order The Sovereign Reigns, or Does He?

Click on the button to order The Sovereign’s Last Battle

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bubble Theology – 2 Peter 3:8-9

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (NASB)

Previously in Scripture, God’s eternal nature has been expressed in a forward direction. Ps 90:4 For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. (NIV) This is expressed in human terms to emphasize that time passes quickly for God. However, as Peter expressed it, time can also pass slowly for Him. Again, this is put in human terms. If we examine this closely, we will understand that God is really outside of time. Time does not pass for Him. The beginning of creation is just as current to Him as the end. Every part of history and every part of the future is “now” to Him.

We can’t understand the concept of existence without time. When we speak of eternity, our minds think about living forever. We still think in terms of time. God says that we can’t really understand it. Eccl 3:11b He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (NIV) We think of time, life, existence as a string. It has a starting point and an ending point. I imagine that eternity is more like a soap bubble floating in the air. Always changing but no beginning or ending point. Perhaps God has stretched a string on that bubble that He calls time. As the bubble swirls and changes that string will disappear and no longer exist. In the mean time, we live our lives as if the string were the only thing that exists. We cannot fathom the rest of the bubble – eternity where God lives.

God’s eternality can’t be separated from His sovereignty, His omniscience, or His omnipotence. Isa 46:10-11 I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do. (NIV) He puts everything in terms we can understand, speaking of beginnings and ends. Not only does God know what will happen in the future, but He is also the one that makes sure it will happen since that is His plan.

We are usually comfortable thinking that God can cause animals to do what He wants as the bird of prey in the verse above. However, we often object to the thought that He gets people to do what He wants unless they know Him. There are many examples in the Bible where people accomplished His will without knowing it. Joseph’s brother sold him into slavery in Egypt in their desire to get rid of him. They were carrying out their own wicked schemes, but what did Joseph say about it? Gen 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (NIV) Joseph’s brother didn’t have any idea that they were actually doing what God wanted.

God hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that the exodus from Egypt would occur as He promised. The people in Canaan fought against Joshua because it was God’s will. Josh 11:20 For it was the Lord himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the Lord had commanded Moses. (NIV)

This brings us to the point of considering God’s patience. When we don’t understand His ways, it is easy to say that He isn’t keeping His promise. When Jesus doesn’t come back when we expect, we have to remember that He has a very specific reason. He knows exactly who is going to be saved from the beginning to the end. Eph 1:4-5 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ … (NIV) If God is delaying the time of Jesus’ return, it is only because there are still people who need to be saved.

They may not even be born yet, but He knows them as if they were alive today. Jer 1:5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." (NIV) Jeremiah had a specific job to do as a prophet of God. If God knew him before he was born, doesn’t it make sense that He knows each of us? If He had a plan for Jeremiah, doesn’t it also make sense He has a plan for us?

There is also a paradox in Peter’s statement. Peter says that God wants everyone to come to repentance and be saved. Yet it is clear that many people reject God and are not saved. This is a mystery that has no answer on our little string. If I could see the bubble, and someday I will, I would be able to understand. For know I know this. He saved me and it isn’t because of anything I did. I don’t deserve it. Because of this, I worship and adore Him.

Others are not saved. Some even use what I’ve said here to justify their rejection of God. But God is patient, He is waiting and He can wait longer than we can. What He has said still is true. John 5:24 I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. (NIV) Regardless of our ability to understand, when we believe in Jesus, we will be saved. We will have jumped off the string onto the bubble even if we can’t see it or even understand it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Will Jesus Return? – 2 Peter 3:3-7

Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation." For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (NASB)

Peter believed that is very important for us to remember that people will always mock Christianity. One of the seemingly easy points to mock is the promise of Jesus’ return. As each year passes, it outwardly seems that they are right. How many generations have passed on since Jesus was taken up into heaven? I’ve even heard Christians who are very devout doubt that His return could be very soon. Some even think that only spiritually immature Christians look for His return each day. Human logic tells us that if He has waited this long, then His return is not likely to be today. Is this not mocking His promise? Spiritual logic tells us to look at all the promises and keep watching, it could be today.

Perhaps one of the reason that we doubt Jesus’ return could be eminent is that He made it clear we can’t predict when He will return. Acts 1:7 He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” (NIV) I think He has kept us from knowing when He will return for a very good reason. We would all become lazy and irresponsible if we knew the exact date. If it were two months and three days from now, how many of us would continue our work, get our paychecks, and calculate when we could quit work but still provide for the last few days. Some may even take on debt knowing that they wouldn’t have to repay it. Jesus addressed this attitude in a parable. Matt 24:45-46 "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.” (NIV ) He put it in a positive light that it will be good for us to continue to be good witness and do what He expects right up to the moment He returns.

On the other hand, the philosophy that He will not return right away produces another kind of abuse that is more in line with the mocker’s attitude. Matt 24:48-50 “But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of.” (NIV) While this servant obviously was doing evil things, are we any different when we become negligent in our Christian duties because we don’t think He is coming back immediately? Do we lose the desire to witness to others because we think we may have plenty of time? Do we not share our wealth generously to help the poor and spread the Gospel because we are concerned that He won’t come back soon and we need to save it all for our retirement?

When people deny that Jesus’ return isn’t going to happen or even that it couldn’t happen today, they are calling God a liar. Peter addresses the basis of this lie in the denial of creation. Sure, everyone believes that something happened to cause everything to come together in what we call the universe. However, they deny that it was God. The NASB says that it escapes their notice. The NIV says that they deliberately forget. The Greek says that they were willingly ignorant. What this means is that they choose to ignore what is before them. Rom 1:20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (NIV) Creation points people to God and He is evident in creation unless someone doesn’t want to be accountable to God.

In Genesis 1:3-31 a phrase is repeated six times. He says there was an evening and a morning, a day (first, second and on.) The word for day can be translated as a literal day or figuratively as any space of time. However, when used figuratively, there is a different form of the word or adverb to clarify the length of time. This is not the case in Genesis 1:3-31. The word has no modifiers and we see the phrase “evening and morning.” There can be only one interpretation for this. Each day of creation was one day or 24 hours. Genesis has long been the focal point of scoffers when they try to disprove the Bible. They know that if they can get you to doubt the very beginning of what God has said, that you will also question other parts. The result is a faith the picks and chooses what it wants to believe. That kind of faith allows many people to call themselves Christians without surrendering themselves to Jesus. (Not really saved.) It also produces weak Christians who can rationalize sinful behavior.

Sinful behavior is what also causes us to ignore the fact that the earth was once destroyed by water. Even though the physics of erosion point to a massive flood and release of those waters, people still believe that the earth is very old and that the mountains and valleys were created by eons of erosion. They don’t want to accept that God caused the distruction of the earth because of man’s sinfulness. If they did admit that, then they would have to admit they, too, are sinners and justifiably condemned without Jesus.

Finally we need to understand that this earth isn’t all there is. It is temporary and not where we should focus our lives. Yes, we need to live here but if our ultimate goals are here, then we will be sorely disappointed. We were made for eternity, a new heaven, and a new earth. Peter reminds us that ultimately, the earth will be destroyed in fire. The only thing keeping it together is God’s word. We need to store up our best treasures for the real future, not the one that will be destroyed.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Wholesome Thinking – 2 Peter 3:1-2

Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. (NIV)

What kind of thinking is wholesome? Obviously, Peter believed that God’s Word as it has been given to us in the Bible could stimulate wholesome thinking. He included the Old Testament and the New by mentioning both the prophet and the apostles. In verse 16, he also includes Paul as he calls Paul’s writings scripture.

Wholesome thinking is not easy. Phil 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (RSV) I firmly believe that this verse is a key to transforming our minds from impurity, hate, unforgiveness, and many other things that bog us down with unwholesome thinking. Unwholesome thinking bogs us down in and prevent us from having peace. When we replace these evil thoughts with the ones Paul lists, we are able to transform our minds.

However, Peter had more in mind than just thinking good thoughts since he continued on to talk about end times and how we should live in light of what God has revealed. Wholesome thinking in this case is developing a worldview that looks at all the circumstances surrounding us and then deciding on a Christian response. So we need to take the things from Phil 4:8 and apply them. For instance, Paul says, “Whatever is just and gracious.” How do we mix justice and grace together? Jesus did it by dying for our sins so we wouldn’t have to. Are we willing to sacrifice ourselves not only to see justice done but also to extend grace? For example, wow do we in the U.S. maintain justice with illegal immigrants and also offer grace? All I hear from the conservative right is a cry for justice that equates to carrying out the letter of the law (deportation, imprisonment, denying medical treatment) without any consideration for the fact that human beings are suffering or in need. Doesn’t wholesome thinking include Jesus’ words? Matt 25:40 "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'” (NIV)

Take taxation as another circumstance that we all face. How does wholesome thinking apply to the way our government taxes us and provides services with those taxes? Should our response be to constantly vote against taxes? Should we criticize our politicians because they have voted for taxes? Perhaps we should consider that schools, highways, police forces, fire protection and many more blessings are provided by taxation before we demand that taxes be lowered. If we pushed tax reductions to the limits, who would provide for these services? What happened to Rom 13:6-7? This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. (NIV)

We have become a society that demands our rights. Our thinking has been so saturated with this concept that we believe anything and everything is a right. Is this wholesome thinking? Is demanding our rights looking at the world with a Christian attitude? Where would we be if Jesus decided His rights were more important than saving us? Matt 5:40-41 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. (NIV) That is radical thinking. It is thinking that puts the rights of other above our own rights. Dare I say it is wholesome thinking?

Personally, I have a hard time getting my mind around it all. When I read the Sermon on the Mount in Matt 5, there is so much there that just doesn’t make human sense. And that is just the point. It isn’t human sense; it is divine sense. If I want to be more like Jesus, then I have to be less like the world. I have to have an eternal perspective while my feet are stuck in the mud of this world. I’m nowhere near where I should be, but I hope to get further. Phil 3:13-14 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (NIV) I would like to be like Paul, but I can’t even say I’m straining toward the goal and pressing on. I’m plodding along. I would like to say that I have more answers but instead, I have more questions.

How about you? Are you straining toward the goal? Are you thinking wholesomely or worldly? Are you letting the Word of God transform your thinking and following it up with action in accordance to His Word or are you letting the conservative right or liberal left formulate your thinking and action? I certainly hope and pray that we all can respond the way Jesus wants.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Once Saved always Saved? – 2 Peter 2:20-22

For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, "A dog returns to its own vomit," and, "A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire." (NASB)

For someone who believes that once a person has been saved that they can’t lose their salvation, this verse stops to make me think. There are several verses in the Bible that say almost the same thing. However I do believe that God doesn’t contradict Himself especially in matters as important as this. I’ll list the verses that appear to support the position that Christians can lose thier salvation.

  • Heb 6:4-6 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. (NIV)
  • Heb 10:26-27 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. (NIV)
These verses all have at their heart a condition – the word if – and some requirements. The requirements are falling away in some manner and apparent salvation to start. In Peter, the condition is tied to a person having the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus. In Hebrews, the condition is being enlightened and tasting the heavenly gift and receiving the knowledge of the truth.

The verses in Hebrews 10 are followed by in verses 32-39 which remind the believers what they have already gone through. This is what is called fruit inspection. There is no indication that these people have fallen away. It ends with Heb 10:39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved. (NIV) Salvation is clearly linked to believing and good works that are the proof of salvation. This passage is then reminding us that a person who is truly saved is not going to continue sinning and therefore will not be condemned. This passage is all about what a person does with the knowledge of the truth. If it goes into the heart and finds good soil, it produces a good fruit. In other words, just knowing the truth doesn’t mean one follows or even believes it. Rom 10:9 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (NIV) When put in context, Hebrews 10:27-27 doesn’t support a Christian losing salvation.

Hebrews 6:4-6 is a bit tougher to handle because of the many references to what appears as salvation. What does enlightened, tasting the heavenly gift, sharing in the Holy Spirit, tasting goodness of the Word of God, and powers of the coming age all mean? Well, it fits the same pattern as Heb 10:26-39. Reading beyond, you can see the writer referring to land that soaks up God’s blessings but yields bad fruit. All these blessings mentioned in verse Heb 6:4-5 are like the rain that God sends on the good and bad land. All these are things that are available to people whether or not they are Christians. I am saying that non-Christians can be enlightened. They know the truth but don’t believe. They taste the heavenly gift because they are strictly following legalistic righteousness because it does help them live healthy well balanced lives. But they don’t believe. When the Holy Spirit convicts them of sinful behavior, they straighten up but still don’t believe. They can even quote scripture and know what happens when Jesus comes back, but deep down in their hearts they don’t believe. They are Pharisees. These verses don’t support a Christian losing salvation but simply points out that people can be outwardly righteous but not saved. Talk to anyone in a cult, especially the ones who are outwardly squeaky clean. You would think they are saved.

Jesus put it this way: Matt 12:43-45 "When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation." (NIV)

Jesus also said: John 5:24 "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” John 10:27-30 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one." (NIV) If a person has truly believed, then he has received eternal life. If a person could believe and then lose salvation then Jesus would have had to say that they have life for a while or life as long as they don’t screw up. If a person could lose his salvation then Jesus would have had to say that no one except that person can snatch them out of His hand. If a person can do something to lose salvation then that would make the person greater than God the Father and Jesus.

You may ask about all those verses that talk about persevering to the end. There are many. I think that all of these can be seen to be a warning to those who want to judge others about their Christian faith. We can’t ever know if a person is saved or not. We can look at their lives and guess. When they reach the end and remain faithful, we can assume they are safely in heaven. They also serve to remind us to examine ourselves and not give up.

It is personal application time, time to examine ourselves and see if we really believe or not. If I do believe, is what I do consistent with what I believe or am I only land that has received rain from above but I’ve never surrendered completely to Jesus? (Surrender is unconditional. If it is conditional then it isn’t surrender.) I’m sure there are many who enjoy the benefits of good clean living but don’t know Jesus personally. They know all about Jesus, His death for our sins, His resurrection, and even His coming again. But somewhere that head knowledge has not been translated to heart knowledge or belief that saves.