TIME CAN BLUNT THE STING OF EMOTIONAL
PAIN. BUT UNDERSTANDING WHERE IT FITS IN
GOD’S WILL CAN PUT IT TO REST
By, Charles R. Chesnutt, Sr.
For God so loved the world
that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whosoever believes in Him
should not perish but have everlasting life.
“Buy the Truth and sell it not.”
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Revisions of this work are determined by the date published.
This edition was published on March 8, 2017.
The author, an attorney and graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, approaches the problem of pain with the conviction that scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit and wholly without error. Accordingly, this book is an uncompromising demand for scriptural consistency and truth – whether it bodes good or ill for how one may prefer to view God. The reason for this approach is not simply to grasp the truth, but to honor the Creator, who, for His own reasons, has made us in the way that He chose and is in no need of apology.
This book is an examination of scripture for the purpose of understanding why God, being both just and good, permits pain and tragedy to occur to those He loves. This book addresses the age-old conundrum of why the biblical, loving God who has created us permits the existence of pain.
The problem of pain is a canker in the faith of many and a stumbling block for many more. But there are excellent reasons why the Creator has created pain and pleasure together. The failure to see these reasons and to confront adversity directly as part of the creation obscures the character of God, and leads the Christian to a place where God is re-defined and made into something that He is not.
Ultimately, if God is God, He is responsible for all things including adversity and pain. Ironically, when one confronts this difficult truth with blunt honesty and simply accepts the plain words of scripture, the circumventions that we often use to color our conception of God begin to fade and an unexpected consistency and faith emerges.
As I wrote this book it became evident that the avoidance of adversity is of equal, if not more, importance that the reason for adversity. I therefore addressed that issue.
Charles R. Chesnutt
The Theological Problem of Pain
Why DOES GOD PERMIT ADVERSITY?
Perhaps in the end we will discover that the problem of pain and adversity lies at the center of all Christian doubt.
Indeed, there is no more challenging argument to the Christian than the argument “If God is a loving God and if He is all powerful, then how could He allow pain and adversity?” This argument is a formidable challenge to our faith, but it is only facade that covers the deeper challenge: “Is there a God at all?”
If the answer is “Yes, there is a God” then the response is “If there is a God, then He is either not loving or not all powerful because He permits pain and adversity to exist.”
The argument continues, “The first baby born without arms is an irrefutable argument that a loving caring God does not exist.” Or, “Who is this God who could prevent the untimely death of a mother or a father or a child, but does not do so? Or “How can a loving God allow disasters, disease and hunger? Why does He stand by when horrible crimes are committed?
How can this loving God allow deformities, idiocy, obesity, dwarfism, and ugliness? How can He who can prevent them allow accidents and life-long losses, suicide, divorce, cancer, blindness and all manner of other tragedies both physical and emotional? How could a loving God permit slavery and holocausts and children who just go wrong and never come back? Why does He permit our heart to be ripped apart?
Ironically, it is only after we have the courage to challenge Him with these questions that the true strength of scripture becomes evident—and His presence and power become real. Challenges like these prove Him. We challenge Him only to discover that He invites the challenge and He emerges as the shining Truth that He is out of the cobwebs of avoided issues and circumvented doctrines. When we challenge scripture and watch it respond, we see Him for who He is more clearly than we ever have and know Him more than we have ever known Him before.
So let us take a leap of faith and face the Problem of Pain head on and see where scripture takes us.
God is God Despite the Opinions of Man
SOME RELIGIONS RE-DEFINE THE GOD OF
SCRIPTURE TO create a god who is more
adaptable to unscriptural beliefs
God has created us the way we are for a very good reason, and He has given us no choice in the matter. He has done what He has done and He leaves us free to accept Him or reject Him.
One thing we must not do, however, is to pretend that He is something that He is not. It is foolhardy to ignore scripture in order to accommodate our own distaste for the way that He has fashioned us, because He is who He is despite any opinion to the contrary.
But who is He? The God of scripture is eternal.1 He existed before man and He created man,2 and He will exist for the rest of eternity.3 Therefore, He exists apart from man and is not dependent upon man for any aspect of His existence. God is God notwithstanding what we think of Him.
Whether we accept Him, agree with Him, love Him, reject Him, hate Him, follow Him or try to make Him into our own image, He is who He is. And all of our pretense, fabrications and rejections of scripture will not change Him. So, let us concern ourselves first with the God of the Bible and then, and only then, permit ourselves to depart if we find Him to be anything less that what He says He is: love.4
If we do not wish Him to be who He is or if we do not wish Him to do what He does, it does not matter because He simply is. Indeed, His name is “I AM THAT I AM”5 meaning “The Self-existent One.” We cannot change Him, nor can He change Himself. He is immutable (unchangeable).6 If we examine Him and find Him not to be to our liking, it is of no moment, because He is still God.
To construct a different god and worship it is idolatry. There is only one God, and He is a jealous God.7 He will not receive the worship of those who worship other gods.
God is Sovereign.
God of is sovereign over all things.8 He is all-powerful9 and all-knowing,10 and as such, He foreknew each of us.11 He knows the number of the hairs on our head12 and is aware of every sparrow that falls.13 He creates man and all things14 and He executes His will.15 He heals,16 guides,17 directs,18 answers prayer,19 manifests himself (makes Himself known) to those who love and obey Him;20 He lives in each person who obeys Him and who loves Him,21 gives wisdom to everyone who asks for it,22 brings righteousness to each one who wants it,23 protects,24 provides,25 gives true freedom,26 removes sin27 and instills within each person who is willing an immense and profound internal peace, which, once discovered, is more marvelous than anything that this earth has to offer.28
This God who is constantly with us and is all powerful is fully capable of delivering each of us from all pain and tragedy and insulating us from harm and sin, either our own sin or the sin of others.
This God could place us in a world where no baby is born without arms, where no one dies, where no disease afflicts, no crime injures, no accident maims, no war kills, no greed steals and no tear is ever shed. But He did not. God who created each of us and who knows the hairs on our heads29 is more than capable of healing any disease that we may ever encounter or delivering us from persecution, hatred, crime, injury, debt and loss in an instant. And He, more than any force in the universe, is able to protect us and our loved ones from anything else. But He does not always do so. Why?
Let us not delude ourselves by creating a theology that teaches that God is not responsible for adversity. Because God certainly is responsible for adversity. He is responsible for all things, including every tragedy and every pain and loss that has ever occurred because He is all knowing30 and all powerful.31
God does not directly cause all tragedies, but He certainly permits them.32 He created forces of nature and fashioned every microbe and virus that is responsible for every disease and He created evil people who kill and injure others. He knows when people will be born with defects and He permits it anyway. Scripture tells us clearly that the God of the Bible created all things.33 He knows in advance of each tragedy that will happen.34 He who created Mother Theresa also created Adolph Hitler and effectively hammered His own son to a cross and left Him to die. He created every saint, every sinner, every taker and every giver, every disease and every recovery, every pain and every pleasure on this earth. He alone determines when men shall live and when men shall die and the pain that they will suffer before the end comes.
Although God is the Creator of those who commit sin, He is not the author of sin.35 Sin is a free choice made by man to ignore the will of God and to engage in acts that result in spiritual death.36 God neither sins, nor causes sin nor does He tempt anyone to sin.37 God creates the sinner but it is the sinner who independently creates the sin. But God is ultimately responsible for both because He created both the sinner and the sin.
For this same reason, one cannot argue that the omnipotent God is not responsible for adversity because it is somehow part of his “permissive” will rather than His “sovereign” will. This distinction makes no difference whatever because God is omnipotent38 and omniscient,39 all powerful and all knowing40 and He alone determines what will occur. This means that nothing happens of which He is not aware; nothing happens that He does not permit; and nothing happens that He does not ultimately cause. Exculpating God by saying that a tragedy occurred because of different parts of His will-or because His back was turned-is saying that God is not omnipotent and not in control of all things. This argument is unscriptural and unnecessary. God is ultimately responsible for everything and He has no need to be exculpated from anything.
Many simply do not accept that God is the author of tragedy because they do not wish the God whom they worship to have any part in adversity. But God Himself announces that He directly creates evil:
Therefore, when scripture says that we should fear God,43 it means exactly that. He did not promise that life would a bed of rose petals; He promised that it would be garden of roses-with thorns. And this is not just an Old Testament concept; it is a New Testament concept as well. Jesus warns us to fear God because God not only kills but casts some into hell after He has finished killing:
And I say unto you, my friends, be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear Him who, after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear Him.44
So Jesus tells us that God kills and casts into hell. Of course He does! He is God. He alone determines when each of our bodies will die. The term “kill” refers to those who die suddenly or violently, so the verse clearly refers to God killing the body and casting the soul into hell. And, indeed, not only does He kill, but He destines some to be disobedient and to stumble:
Behold, I lay in Zion a Chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe He is precious; but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed...45
And God chooses:
Therefore hath he mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth. You will say then unto me, Why does He yet find fault? For who has resisted His will? Nay but, O man, who are you to reply against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why have you made me thus?46
God chooses some and does not choose others and ultimately casts some into hell. However, to address a prevalent scriptural error, God does not punish anyone with eternal torment. He does not burn anyone alive forever. The the doctrine of eternal torment for all unbelievers is a Catholic myth and it is gross theological error and is nowhere in scripture.47 The final state of those who reject Christ is not eternal torment but eternal death (the “second death”).48 Eternal torment is reserved for Satan, the antichrist and the false prophet,49 and there is no scripture that teaches that all unbelievers will receive the same end as Satan. For those who reject Christ, death in scripture is exactly that: death. And there is no scripture that describes the eternal fate of unbelievers as "separation from God." Every single scripture that addresses the eternal fate of the unredeemed either says directly or points to death, not eternal torment. This includes passages that allude to eternal punishment50 because the eternal punishment of unbelievers is in every instance described as death or destruction. The unredeemed will be punished eternally, to be sure, but that punishment is eternal death, not eternal torment. Thus, many of the lost souls who die will receive exactly what they expect and God who created them will not resurrect them for the purpose of burning them alive forever, nor does He predestine anyone to that fate. In the end men die because they have sinned51 and because the wage of sin is death52 and because they have not turned to Christ. The only escape of eternal death is to appropriate the work of Jesus Christ who paid the wage of sin for us by dying for us (not suffering eternal torment for us)53 on the cross.54 When we trust in Jesus Christ we never die the second death55 because Jesus Christ has paid our penalty. Instead of eternal death, we have eternal life.56
Some Christian denominations re-define God to become less fearsome, less responsible and not really in control. They create a god who neither interferes nor creates nor does anything unpleasant. In this way they lead their congregations away from the Creator, away from scripture, away from salvation by faith in Christ and into lives that will eventually end in eternal death.
But one does not have to look far in scripture to see that God is far from the neutered god described by apostate churches. The God of scripture is fearsome indeed. Love and acceptance are not His only attributes. The God of scripture directly causes tragedies.
For instance, He drowned every human on the face of the earth except for one family because of the wickedness of mankind - this obviously included infants.57 He predestinated His own people, the Israelites, to be enslaved and mistreated in Egypt for 400 years;58 He hardened Pharaoh’s heart59 and thereby strengthened Pharaoh’s resolve not to respond to the signs of Moses. He then proceeded to visit a series of miraculous tragedies upon the people of Egypt and when Pharaoh would not let the children of Israel go He killed all of the first born of Egypt, including innocent babies (this is the Passover);60 In order to protect the Israelites, whom He had predestinated to be slaves in Egypt, He drowned an army of Egyptians who were required to follow the orders of Pharaoh;61 He caused the Chaldeans to attack Jerusalem to punish Israel for idolatry and sent all of Israel into captivity;62 He killed 50,070 men just because certain members of their tribe looked into the Ark of the Covenant;63 and when He was angered He directly killed some of His own people64 and sent a plague among them.65 He destroyed every inhabitant of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them alive, except for the family of Lot.66 And finally He sent His own Son to be crucified and die a horribly painful death.67 And He states with absolute clarity that in the end of days, when mankind returns to legitimized sin and debauchery as in of the days of Noah,68 the world will suffer unprecedented destruction and pain.69 So, make no mistake. The God of scripture is not only love and acceptance,70 but He is fearsome as well.
And, at the same time, He is the cause of every moment of every love, every act of kindness, every self-sacrifice, every help, every touch, every faithful friend and supportive and loving spouse, every caring mother and father, every honest word, every birth, and every beautiful and wonderful thing on this earth.
Let us simply admit that He is who He is. And in our admitting, let us admit all that He is. Let us presume that these scriptures are true, as is all of scripture, and have the courage see where it leads us. Let us look at this God, who is at once the author of tragedy and ecstasy, the giver of both comfort and of pain, the author of eternal life and eternal death, and let us ask the most difficult of questions:
A Reason for Adversity
MANKIND WITHOUT ADVERSITY IS MANkind
If God exists and if He is good and if He is in control, why does He permit anyone, especially those He loves to be exposed to pain and adversity?71
The reason why God permits—and creates—adversity is because He is using it to create righteousness and righteousness, as well as the acts of righteousness have eternal significance. He is giving us the opportunity to create righteousness. We are His chosen agents to express and thereby to create things like honor, fidelity, honesty, kindness, forgiveness, acceptance, integrity and to express on earth what God is: love.72
The problem is that virtues like these cannot exist in a vacuum. They must have their counterparts. The counterpart of honor is dishonor; the counterpart of fidelity is betrayal; the counterpart of honesty is dishonesty; of kindness the counterpart is cruelty and of integrity the counterpart is deceit. Adversity is an inherent byproduct of sin. And adversity, when it is an independent occurrence like a disease, accident or similar tragedy, creates the opportunity to act with honor and righteousness. Adversity and its fears and losses create the background for the acquisition of righteousness, spiritual strength, patience and love. Like a white ferret invisible on a snowy hill, righteousness is invisible without its counterparts.
Righteousness is not possible without choice and choice is irrelevant without adversity. Mankind without adversity would not be man. If man is free to give, he must also be free to take. If he is free to reject, he must also be free to love. If he is free to be kind, he must also be free to be cruel. He must have free will to be real.
Of all of the miracles that Christ performed, not one of them altered the free will of anyone. Nowhere does scripture make this more evident than in the case of John the Baptist. When the Baptist was imprisoned, Christ was beginning a ministry and performing miracle after miracle. Christ changed water into wine;73 He healed the sick74 and gave sight to the blind.75 He paid the temple tax from coins taken from the mouths of fishes,76 but left John the Baptist in prison. And when the Baptist fell victim to the whim and free will of a depraved young girl, his head was presented to her on a platter.77
Jesus did nothing to save the life of John the Baptist. Why?
How could God permit this, especially when Jesus was physically present and when the very person whose head was cut off was the prophet who had foretold His coming? With a word or a wave of his hand, Jesus Christ could have saved him, but He did not. Why?
God has a reason for creating a world where young girls and potentates can place the heads of prophets upon platters. There is a reason why we live in a world where free will is unrestrained and crooked politicians, tyrants and criminals blossom like spring weeds. It is no accident.
God is a creator. He creates beauty, both physical and moral beauty. And in us, He has taken a step beyond simple creation and created a living being that has been imbued with both free will and a sin nature-a dangerous combination, but a necessary one. We are the vessels of His righteousness; we are the beauty that He has created.
Our Father has placed us in a fallen world that is a moral free-for-all where the currency is coins of honesty and honor, truth and wisdom, justice and mercy, fidelity, diligence, reliability, generosity, service, sharing, giving, loving. These are the only things that can produce real value. God has created us to live in a world that is devoid of its own moral compass and He has given us a blank check called free will and when it is over, He will ask us what we did with it.
We are born to sin, and destined to encounter the refiner’s fire. It has to be like that. Our fidelity arises from temptation, our generosity from our want, and faith from our fear. Our Father takes sinners and turns them into gold; He creates beauty from ashes—us:
…To give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD78
Behold, I have refined thee…I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.79
And I will … refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ And they will say, ‘The LORD is my God80
Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the Lord have created it.81
It will come about in all the land,” Declares the LORD, “That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; But the third will be left in it.”And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ And they will say, ‘The LORD is my God82
It is difficult when we experience the refiner’s fire. It burns white-hot. But we are told not to question His wisdom:
Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherds strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to Him that fashioneth it, what makest thou? Or Thy work, He hath no hands?
Woe unto him that saith unto his father, what begettest thou? Or to the woman, what hast thou brought forth?83
The concept of righteousness may seem obscure to many, but to God, it is massive. God values righteousness exceedingly, and He hates unrighteousness.84 Righteousness, or rather the lack of it, was the reason for the fall of man; it is the reason for eternal judgment—eternal life or eternal death and it is the reason for the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. When He looks upon us, He does not see our body, but our heart, our goodness or badness, our righteousness or unrighteousness85 and He searches our heart and deals with us according to what He sees.86
Anyone who does not recognize how important righteousness is to God does not know God.87 So, righteousness now, in this life is overwhelmingly important. The decision to accept the righteousness of Christ results in eternal life,88 and the decision not to accept the righteousness of Christ results in eternal death.89 Obedience to God’s Word may seem irrelevant in this fallen world, but in reality it is everything.
God intends it to be obscure.90 Without the difficulty and without the obscurity, there is no issue to wrestle with; there is no choice, and without choice there is no righteousness. Righteousness is making a free choice to hear and to obey His words in the face of adversity, rather choosing not hear and not to obey and capitulating to sin.91
Adversity is the means of creating righteousness because adversity forces us to make difficult choices in the face of temptation and pain, and when those choices are wisely made, they are instances of righteousness, lights flashing in the darkness of the moral free-for-all that is this world.
God has created us to create righteousness and to become both righteous and eternal. He has not created us so that we can spend a lifetime chasing dreams and self-aggrandizement like a mouse spinning in a golden running wheel. We were not created to wander through this world in search of wealth, power, pleasure or stoicism. We were created in His image. We were created to be righteous. We were created to create.
By placing man in a world filled with adversities and making it relatively easy to choose the wrong path, He has placed man is in the position to independently make choices that are meaningful. Choices become meaningful when they are difficult, and they are difficult when they are made in the face of adversity or temptation. By making these difficult choices, man becomes either the author of righteousness or the author of unrighteousness, the author of morality or the author of immorality, the author of darkness or the author of light, the author of death or the author of life, all of which are eternal, one way or the other.92
When man makes righteous choices, he creates instances of righteousness that did not exist before. Instances of righteousness that could not exist but for that man or that woman. And, unlike sin which results in spiritual death,93 righteousness results in life and peace94 and it is eternal:
As the whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no more: but the righteous is an everlasting foundation.95
… the righteous [shall go into] life eternal.96
…as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.97
Within scripture’s continually reiterated concept of righteousness and obedience, God weaves numerous and specific shining facets. Among these facets are love (God is love98), honesty,99 integrity,100 fidelity,101 courage,102 diligence,103 love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, humility, temperance [self-control]104 kindness,105 and others.
As we assimilate these qualities, they become consistent patterns of behavior and we become that person. These patterns of behavior are called virtues. Virtues are expressions of righteousness. These virtues are life and they are eternal. 106 But they cannot exist without their counterparts.
Without the possibility of choosing unrighteousness, the choice of righteousness is meaningless. Each must have its opposite and all men are required to make choices of either good or bad, and all men have been given the inherent knowledge of which is which.107
Righteousness and virtue are by far the most prevalent aspects of all scripture. In the Old Testament, righteousness permeates the scripture from Cain and Able108 to Judges;109 it stretches from the Ten Commandments110 to the prophet Malachi.111 Righteousness is the reason for the Old Testament law. It flows through Psalms like a river of purpose112 and forms the bedrock of Proverbs.113 It is the reason behind all of the prophets and it is the light of their prophecies.114
In the New Testament, Christ was crucified to give the gift of righteousness115 to those who were unrighteous in order to make them righteous.116 Righteousness is the core of His ministry and teachings; it is the reason for His death on the cross117 and one of the goals of the resurrection is for us to made in the righteous likeness of Christ.118
Behind all the lessons, the themes, the drama, the history and all the teachings in all of scripture stands a silent giant: righteousness. And within that giant are honesty, fidelity, love, courage, wisdom, diligence, reliability, constancy, truth, generosity, honor and all other virtues.
It is no wonder that God has placed the apple of His eye (man) into a world where man himself can become the author of this eternal jewel: righteousness.
But in order to author righteousness, we must also be enabled to be the author of unrighteousness. Because without that choice, neither righteousness nor unrighteousness exists. Without that choice there is no more virtue in it than there is in a mathematical equation.
It is for this reason that the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden hung from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.119 For without the knowledge of good and evil, there can be neither good nor evil. Without that knowledge, the choice is neuter, irrelevant.
And in a moral universe, righteousness is everything. In a fallen world, it is light in the darkness.
Righteousness is Eternal
righteousness is forged on the anvil of
adversity and it is eternal.
Christ describes Himself as a vine with Christians as the branches. Their stated purpose is to bear fruit.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.120
One of the primary purposes of the post resurrection ministry of Christ-if not the primary purpose-is not simply to receive the free gift of salvation, but also to bear fruit. And the fruit that we are to bear is the is the fruit of the Spirit and that fruit is righteousness:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance…121
We have been chosen for the express purpose of bearing not just fruit, but permanent fruit:
Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain…122
He is building us, constructing us to be bearers of this fruit. He is constructing us; we are God’s building:
For we are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry; ye are God’s building.123
He who does the will of God will never die:
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.124
In addition to the fruits of the Spirit set forth in Galatians 5:22, we are also called to be “transformed” by the renewing of our minds that we may do the will of God.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.125
We are the branches of the vine of God.126 God has foreknown us and predestined us to be conformed to (made into) the image of righteousness (Christ).127 We were created for many reasons, but one of the most important is to bear the eternal fruits of righteousness128 and be made into the image of Christ:
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.129
But this building, this transformation can be painful, because pain and adversity are necessary parts of it. Life is not an easy road and it was never intended to be, not for us, not for Christ and not for the apostles. Perhaps this concept is best encapsulated in a statement that Jesus makes to Peter, the Apostle:
Simon, Simon behold, Satan had desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not…130
Satan desired to sift Peter as wheat and apparently received leave to do so. And Jesus was quick to pray for Peter, but He did not pray that Peter would be protected from adversity. On the contrary, He tells Peter that he will encounter adversity and implies that Satan has been given leave to sift him like wheat. Jesus prays that Peter would be able to withstand the sifting. Why does He not pray that Peter would be spared it. Why? Because Peter’s faith was supposed to be tried. God placed Peter in a position where Peter’s righteous response in the face of adversity will bear eternal fruit.
So, the issue that Christ addresses in His prayer was not the pain that was coming to Peter, but how Peter would respond to the pain. Would he turn from his faith or would he emerge with a faith made stronger by having withstood the onslaught of Satan himself? How else would this fisherman-turned-evangelist have obtained the faith and courage necessary to become the pillar of the evangelism that brought the presence of God to the entire world?131
What choice will a man make when faced with tragedy? Will he remain honest? Will he deny his faith? Will he leave his family? Will he take revenge? Will he refuse to forgive? Will he kill, as Cain did when God rejected his sacrifice?132 The choices that man makes define him forever-precisely the way Cain has been defined forever. What has been done can never be undone. One may be forgiven,133 rehabilitated and made into a new creature,134 but the opportunity to be an author of righteousness in the face of temptation flickers and passes at the moment of choice.
Remove the requirement to choose by removing adversity from mankind and man is no longer man. Without choice or challenge, man becomes a pretender reading scripts upon a stage. He is no more real than an actor speaking courageous pretense-faking courage without fear, receiving honor without price, working without effort or loving without passion. Remove temptation and adversity and real choices disappear. Without adversity we become no more significant than shadows that move across a cinema screen. Turn off the projector and they disappear.
Choosing is what righteousness really is; it is choosing the right solely because it is right and each right choice is a golden brick in God’s eternal construction. Each wrong choice is just another board hammered on, a board that will later be burned:
Now if any man build upon this foundation of gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble-Every man’s work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath build upon it, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet as by fire.135
Scripture defines choices of good or evil as choices between darkness and light136 and scripture defines the damned as those who loved darkness rather than light:
And this is the condemnation, that light [Christ] is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.137
They loved darkness because their deeds were evil, not vice versa. The love of darkness did not cause their deeds to be evil, the evil deeds caused their love of darkness. They were who they chose to be and what they chose to be was the sum of their choices. Each choice to lie;138† each choice to steal;139 each choice to gossip140† produces another piece of spiritual death. It is gradual and with each instance it is just a little easier to die inside, easier to turn away from the light. Justification for sin becomes much easier as more of the Truth is obscured. As the repeated sin of fornication141 progressively obscures its darkness, so are all sins legitimized with use. As stated by one unfortunate young person, “I crossed the line just once because I knew I could always step right back. But when I turned around I could hardly believe how far back the line was…”
Sin produces spiritual death and we can feel it. It is a void inside.
In the end it is man who produces his own love for darkness. Sinful choices produce the love of darkness and the love of darkness results in God’s condemnation.142 Jesus Christ is the only solution because the cross is the only thing that can change the spiritual effect of what we have already been done and make what is spiritually dead to come alive:
…He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”143
And just as we can feel the internal void of spiritual death, we can also feel the presence of spiritual (eternal) life . It is an actual experience. It is the gift of eternal life, which is knowing God, that turns lives around, makes zealots out of agnostics and saints out of atheists. Theology or change of opinion does not do this. Only Christ can do this. That is what eternal life is; it is knowing Him:
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.144
Choosing not to turn to Christ is the voluntary choice to love darkness rather than light and it results in God’s final condemnation to eternal death.145 Ultimately what we love is determined by our choices. And our choices are eternal.146
The final destination of all Christians is heaven, but we will all face the judgment seat of Christ. The judgment seat of Christ for Christians is not a judgment of condemnation because there is no condemnation (second death) for Christians.147 The Judgment Seat of Christ is a judgment in which we each will receive “the things done in [our] body, according to that done, whether it be good or bad.”148 It too is dependent upon what we love. It is our choice and we must all render an accounting to God for what we have done on earth.149 Every choice has an eternal effect, and He tells us frankly what will happen to all of us in the end.
The world is like a field where both wheat and weeds are growing. Wheat is valuable because it yields nourishment (righteousness). Weeds (weeds) are not valuable because they yield nothing and, when eaten, they take the place of wheat depriving the body of the nourishment that it needs. In the end the weeds will be gathered and burned, but the wheat shall be gathered into God’s barn:
Let both grow together until the harvest; and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into My barn.150
At that time the righteous shall shine forth as the sun
Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.151
All of the accountings and the rewards at the judgment seat of Christ will arise from a lifetime lived out in this fabric of good and evil which is called mankind. In this fabric, all men are subject to its inherent adversities, temptations, pleasures, contentments, virtues, accomplishments, pains and death. If these adversities did not exist, neither would their counterparts in which case there would be neither wheat nor weeds.
So, what is God doing by creating mankind with adversities? He is creating. He is creating us. He is creating us to carry the fruits of His Spirit, fruits could not exist without the entire fabric of this life that incorporates threads of adversity, threads of happiness, threads of success, threads of failure, threads of fears, of tragedy, and of peace and faith all of which are carefully woven into the magnificent tapestry of mankind.152 We are the jewels of His creation made in His image. We are His garden.
We are the branches in His vineyard that are pruned to grow His grapes. He tells clearly us that He is the vine and we are the branches.153 The critical relevance of this verse is sometimes lost in its repetition and familiarity. But the verse reclaims its power when we realize that grapes grow only from branches, not from vines. We are his vineyard, His harvest.
Examples of Righteousness Coming from Adversity
in scripture and in our own lives we find
instances of righteous choices creating
Scripture contains numerous examples of righteousness that arose from adversity.
Righteousness Created in the Life of David
In the history of Saul and David we see that God is not a deliverer. On the contrary, God was the direct cause of serious adversity in the life of David. But to understand why God did this, one must understand that God’s purpose was not to cause David distress, but to provide David with the opportunity to become a bearer of righteousness and so to be forged into the greatest king that Israel had ever known until Christ.154
After David killed Goliath, King Saul noticed him and gave him a position as a military leader.155 In this capacity, David led several successful battles against the Philistines. And these successes resulted in a significant acclaim for David by the Israelites.
One day David returned from battle and he was greeted with acclamations and a song that indicated that the people had more regard for him than for Saul. Saul became aware of this song and became angry. So here was a young champion creating a name for himself that exceeded that of the king.156 It is not difficult to understand why Saul became defensive: Saul’s position of political power was threatened.
God sent an evil spirit to prompt Saul to seek David’s life.157 As a result of the influence of this evil spirit, Saul picked up a spear and threw it directly at David attempting to kill him, but David was quick and dodged the spear.158 Saul attempted to kill David twelve times and failed in every attempt.159 David’s life was preserved and David remained in Saul’s court.
Saul faced David’s perceived threat and he had to make a choice. Would he preserve David for the good of the country or kill him for the good of himself? Saul chose kill him for the good of himself and in doing so he defined himself.160 Saul’s choice was an expression of what he loved: power. The promptings of an evil spirit did not alter that; they simply brought it out.
Although God had sent the evil spirit, He did not initiate the sin of Saul.161 Saul was tempted as we all are and he made his choice by himself. He alone produced the sin when he made a free choice to ignore the sixth commandment162 and engage in an act that resulted in his own spiritual death.163 Nor did God tempt Saul to sin by sending the evil spirit because God neither sins, nor causes sin nor does He tempt anyone to sin.164 The evil spirit was not a temptation; the preservation of political power by means of murder was the temptation. The evil spirit was no more definitive than an internal conflict that any of us may encounter. Although God does not tempt, He does harden hearts so that the nature of that heart may be expressed and disclosed for what it is.165 It was Saul, therefore, who is responsible, whether his heart was hardened or not.
What did David do as a result of Saul’s attempted murder? David made the opposite choice. David chose not to retaliate and the result was that Saul was placed in a position of having to honor David. Saul sent David away by placing him in command of a force of 1000 soldiers elsewhere.166 But David behaved himself wisely in all his ways,167 and this resulted in more acclaim.
What were David’s thoughts when he fled? His whole life was serving as an Israelite commander. And now he was banished. Why had God forsaken him? Samuel had promised David the throne170 but now it seemed that God had abandoned him.
David had to face his own doubts somewhere in the dusty backcountry of Israel. In the shadow of a mountain or perhaps in the silence of a darkened cave the doubts and questions must have come to him. What good are God’s promises now, David? Why serve such a God? When the end comes you will curse God and die…and that will be soon now. Perhaps it was in the dark before the dawn that the intended explanation passed through his thoughts like a raven over a blackened moon, “Come now, David, be reasonable. There is no God.”
But David did not waiver, and Saul continued to pursue David and found him at Engedi. But before Saul could attack, David sneaked up behind Saul and cut off a piece of his clothing.171 He later approached Saul and informed him that he could have killed him but chose not to.172 David stated “…the Lord avenge me of thee; but mine hand shall not be upon thee.”173 David made his choice and he stuck with it.
Like an uncut diamond in a muddy stream, David’s true character began to take on a light of its own. David was a man who feared God and had the faith to obey Him at any cost. And David would not waiver, even if it could mean his own death.174
David reasoned correctly that it was God Himself who had placed Saul on the throne of Israel and David would wait until God removed him. David’s faith became more substantial at every test and every difficult choice he made brought his relationship with his Creator one step closer.175
David had been tested with adversity and had emerged a finer man as a result of it. But without the tests, David could never have made the choices he made and he would not have become the person that he became. Without the adversity imposed upon David by Saul, David would have been just another name for Bible students to try to remember.
David did not always make the best choices in his life. But most of his choices were good ones176 and the right choices that David made were dear to the heart of God.
I have found David the son of Jessie, a man after Mine own heart…177
In spite of David’s sins of murder and adultery, he was still a man after God’s own heart. Why? God obviously did not love David because of what David did. God loved David because David loved Him:
I will love thee, oh Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler [shield], and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. I will call upon the Lord who is worthy to be praised…178
And God loved David because David loved scripture, which is God’s Word:
Oh how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day.179
And God’s Word is the expression of who God is:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.180
So what was the secret to David’s success? Love for God expressed through obedience was David’s secret. David loved God.
Righteousness Created in the Life of Joseph
The scriptures tell us that there was a man named Jacob who found favor with God. God renamed him and called him Israel.181 Israel had twelve sons.182 Each of these sons was a patriarch of one of the twelve tribes of Israel and descendants of these men live in Israel today. However, they may well not have prospered as they did if it were not for one of them: Joseph.
Somewhere in the desolation of the southern area of what is now Israel, eleven of them were camped. They, like us, saw themselves as being placed on the crest of a wave of time and for them, the future was, as for us, next month. They all knew the old story of their grandfather Abraham. It was said that God had visited him and told him that his seed would be as the sands of the sea. But every family has its traditions, and nothing significant was happening to them.
Their 17 year old little brother appeared in the distance and they began to discuss their dislike for him. The discussion hatched into a plan to dispose of him permanently and tell their father Jacob that he had been killed by a wild beast. They seized Joseph and were ready to kill him when they saw an approaching caravan of Ishmaelites (predecessors of today’s Muslims) and decided instead to profit by selling him into slavery instead of killing him.183 So, Joseph went down to Egypt as a slave.
He was purchased by the household of Potifer, who was one of Pharaoh’s officials. While in charge of Potifer’s household, Potifer’s wife attempted to seduce him and when Joseph refused, she lied about him and had him thrown into prison where remained for an unspecified number of years.184
While in prison he became known as one who could interpret dreams. Pharaoh heard of him and called him to interpret his dream of seven fat cows and seven lean ones. Joseph correctly interpreted Pharaoh’s dream to be prophetic of seven fat years and seven years starvation. Pharaoh placed Joseph in charge of Egypt’s grain and Joseph, relying on Pharaoh’s prophetic dream, saved Egypt from famine.185
Thereafter, Joseph’s brothers began to feel the effect of the famine in Israel and went to Egypt for grain. Thus the very brothers who had sold Joseph into slavery now came to him for grain. But they thought they were speaking to an Egyptian and had no idea that they were actually speaking to Joseph. And at that point Joseph could have done whatever he wished with them because Joseph’s power was second only to that of Pharaoh.
But Joseph did not harm them. He gave them the food they needed and they returned to Jacob, their father. Thereafter, the entire family went to Egypt to get grain and to see Joseph.
God had used the sins of the brothers to preserve the family and created character in Joseph that was strong enough to forgive from his heart.
Love Expressed by Obedience
Love expressed by obedience was the key for both David and Joseph.
Neither David nor Joseph could not look behind the events of their lives and see the extent to which they had been orchestrated by the Creator for a purpose. They stood, as we do, upon the crest of the wave of time. The only true reality for them was the present. The future for them was, as it is for us, the next day, or month or years. They could not see how their present difficulties would work to the benefit of both him and God, but they did. And so it is with us.186
In the midst of their trials, they found that stubborn obedience to scripture was a light to their lives and that light was the means by which they eventually profited from the adversity that they faced.187
What is this secret to knowing God and discovering wisdom and peace in the midst of tragedy? It is no secret. It is spelled out clearly in the text of scripture. First, one must love Him188 and second, one must obey Him.189 The combination of these two is a yielded obedience—an obedience from the heart. This is how we express our reverence and our love to our Creator.
Love without expression is an illusion. It is friend in need who never helps or a lover who never touches. It is faith without works.190
Obedience without love is more or less a transaction. It is something given for something else in return. It is a sale. Obedience to God without love is legalism; it is the purchase of God’s favor by doing something. But God is not for sale. He gives everything but sells nothing.
So neither love alone nor works alone accomplishes anything. But love for God expressed by obedience is everything because it is love in action. Love in action is the interface between man and God because it is real love and real love is what God is.191
Scripture tells us clearly that God’s presence comes to us through love expressed by obedience, but love is first.
Adversity Can Be Avoided by Obedience
sin causes adversity. much adversity can
be avoided by avoiding sin.
Much of the adversity that we encounter in life is voluntary. Adversity can be avoided by avoiding sin because adversity is the inevitable result of sin, although the consequences of some sins may not be immediately visible.
Besides its natural consequences, all sin causes spiritual death in this life by destroying our relationship with Christ.192† And following the final judgment sin committed during life results in the second death.193 The second death can be avoided by Christ and Christ alone.
Righteousness is not simply doing what seems right or feels right. Righteousness is what God says is right and one learns what righteousness is by reading scripture-hence the immense importance of Scripture. Scripture is not a theological word game; it is the means to a transformation into a lifetime of immense peace, peace that is experienced. Scripture is a pattern of honor and morality superimposed on our life. When we stay within its construct, we are blessed and, if we are believers, we are blessed with the experiential presence of Jesus Christ.194 When we fail to follow the pattern, we venture into sin and depart from the presence of God.
In scripture we find both righteousness and its counterpart, which is wisdom. Scripture is like a flashlight on a dark path at night. It tells us how to avoid pain beforehand by telling us how to avoid sin.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet…195
The wisdom of God’s word has saved many from significant pain:
By the word of thy lips, I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer.196
The entrance of thy words giveth light.197
He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honor.198
Failure to appreciate the wisdom of scripture has unfortunate consequences:
The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.199
One does not have to read much scripture to see how adversity can be avoided by obedience. Much pain, for instance, can be avoided by obeying scriptures such as these:
Do not yoke yourself (in a relationship, a marriage or in partnership) with an unbeliever.200
Do not steal.201
Do not covet (do not permit yourself to strongly desire something that belongs to another-like his wife or her husband).202
Don’t be a fornicator, a homosexual, a thief or a drunkard.203
Don’t be a liar.204
Husbands love your wives205
Wives, submit to your husband and his leadership.206
Don’t become a surety (don’t cosign a loan or promissory note).207
Forgive. Always forgive. Always, always forgive, and never hold a grudge.208
Do not criticize or condemn.209
Love always. Love never fails.210
Don’t injure with words.211
Do not gossip. Scripture equates gossip with murder and it makes no distinction between gossip that is true and gossip that is false: all gossip, whether true or false is sin.212 Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy…213
Do not associate with a gossip.214
Avoiding adversity generally consists of the use of the same scriptures that foster good relationships:
Be diligent; work hard.215
Don’t be wise in your own eyes.216
A good man obtains favor of the Lord.217 So, strive to be a good man or good woman.
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes.218 Therefore look to scripture for what is right and what is wrong.
Avoid the results of sin by not committing it.219
In the way of righteousness is life.220 Strive for and grow in righteousness.
A prudent man covers shame.221 Don’t speak of your own shame or the shame of others.
The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways.222 Be careful of whom you make your companion.
The simple believe every word.223 Test everything by scripture.
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life.224 So, go to the fountain and drink.
The fear of the Lord creates strong confidence.225 Fear God and because of this fear, yield to Him and experience what happens when you do.
Scripture teaches us to be just plain smart. For instance, it teaches us to look ahead for the threat to come and avoid it:
A prudent man forseeth the evil and hideth himself: but the simple pass on and are punished.226
It teaches us to protect our good name:
A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor than silver and gold.227
It teaches not to be contrary, mischievous person:
Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward. He that doth keep his soul shall be far from them.228
And perhaps most importantly it teaches us to embrace humility:
By humility and fear of the Lord are riches, honor and life.229
Humility is the bedrock of practically all virtues. It is the lens that lets one see truth through the cloud of pride.
Adversity in Relationships
not all relationships are wise
Scripture is like a map that illuminates the sometimes murky waters of relationships:
Make no friendship with an angry man [or woman]; and with a furious man thou shalt not go.230
Avoid the immoral woman [or man].231
Don’t reprove a scorner, because he will hate you for it; but reprove a wise man and he will love you.233
He that keeps his mouth keeps his life.237
Contention comes by means of pride.238 Avoid the proud and self-centered.
Fools make a mock of sin.239 Avoid the fool who mocks righteousness and thereby mocks sin.
Shun pride. “Pride goeth ... before a fall.”240
All of these scriptures fit together like the gears of a watch. But they are not written just to be studied; they are written to be lived. And in their living their power is made known. These scriptures are more than just smart. They are the most effective means to avoid adversity in this life. They are the means by which we experience the presence and the power of God.
How do these scriptures open us to the power and presence of God? John 14:21 tells us how to experience His presence through sincerely yielding to Him. We love Him by yielding to Him, by recognizing Him as our God, by obeying Him:
He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is who loves Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him and will manifest Myself to him [I will make Myself known to him].241
This verse is simple and powerful. It teaches that God makes Himself known to those who express their love toward Him through obedience. God makes Himself known to those who have His commandments (those who learn what His commandments are) and keep them (those who obey His commandments), those who obey Him as a means of expressing their love for God.
We should remember, however, that obedience does not give us salvation; because salvation is a gift242 and one cannot earn a gift. Salvation is given to all who wish it, but initially it had to be earned because the penalty for sin is death and someone had to die. It was earned and paid for by Jesus Christ at the cost of His life,243 and, since He earned it and it is His to do with as He chooses. And chooses to give it away.244 Because it is His to give, there is nothing that we can do to alter what He does with it other than ask for it and receive it as a gift. We can refuse it, but we cannot lose it. 245
So, salvation is a free gift, but the experience of God’s peace and presence is not a gift; it is an opportunity. It is an opportunity to all of those who have trusted in Christ and received the gift of salvation. The experience and the presence of God is acquired by surrender to Him. Surrender, true obedience is the way that we express love back to God and enjoy the peace of God.
Why is the presence of God not a free gift as well? Why must we obey Him in order to experience His presence? Because each piece of disobedience is the opposite of God; it is a piece of spiritual death246 but God is spiritual life:247 God does not dwell in the presence of continued, willful sin.248
God saves sinners, that is true, but if those who are saved continue to sin, they cannot know God because sin separates man from God, and it does not matter whether the sin comes from a Christian or not:
…your iniquities have separated you from your God: your sins have hidden His face from you”249
…You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, Nor shall evil dwell with you.”250
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived.…251
…as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.252
Much adversity can be avoided by simply avoiding an unwise or unscriptural relationship in the first place. That is especially true for the marital relationship.
Avoiding the Tragedy of the Unscriptural Marriage
The threshold sin that causes pain in marriage is entering into an unscriptural marriage. An unscriptural marriage is a marriage between two people who are unequally yoked spiritually.
This scripture means do not marry anyone who not actually know Jesus Christ and actually experiencing eternal life (a relationship with Christ).253 Why? Because only the one who knows Christ will have the spiritual strength to give what is required to establish a relationship on a spiritual level. Marriage to an unbeliever limits the available intimacy because it renders the very deep marital intimacy contemplated by scripture to be impossible.
Of course, this sin is easily committed because the embrace of human love makes it easy to believe that one is seeing the entire picture and that nothing will ever change. The warmth of a rare and fulfilling relationship serves to obscure the underlying realities. It is for this reason that scripture warns us to guard our heart first.254
Love without Christ can cool, but lovers who walk with Christ will never cease to love. Human love lives in the presence of righteousness. It is empowered with the presence of Christ and it never dies and need not ever cool. To be specific, warm, actual, passionate human love in a marriage need not ever die. Human love (the Greek word "eros") is one of four loves that are empowered by the presence of Jesus Christ. The presence of Christ is contingent upon obedience to His word (scripture)255 and that obedience, especially for an excellent marriage, begins precisely at Matthew 7:1.256
It is astounding how much difference obedience to this one scripture can make to a marriage. This scripture is so powerful that after watching it work it is easy to conclude that those who ignore it are either ignorant of it or simply find that their family is not worth the trouble. This scripture and forgiveness are keys that inevitably work, unless the marriage is plagued with significant sin such as adultery or drunkenness.
Sin can be both covered and resolved by God’s presence, but where the mate is either an unbeliever or does not live his or her life in such as way as to invite the actual presence of Christ, the purpose of God is thwarted and the disheartening reality is that God never comes where He is not invited—except in judgment.
Therefore, instead of using the light of passion to discern wisdom and truth, use the lamp of scripture:
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness257
Before a marriage, each party presents a pretty face. But after the marriage, perhaps not. It is difficult to predict how one will be treated after the marriage, and how one is treated by a spouse after the surrender occurs is everything.
Let us consider the advantages of yoking one’s self with someone who is wholly committed to scripture and surrendered to Christ. A spouse who is surrendered to Christ is someone who:
1. Treats you better than himself or herself.258
2. Treats you in the way that he or she would want to be treated.259Treats you with patience and kindness. Your mate is someone that is not self centered. He or she never embarrasses you (never acts unseemly), is someone who is rarely provoked to anger; someone who thinks no evil of you and speaks no evil of you. Your mate bears everything and endures everything that you may do. If you are a wife, your husband is someone who would never strike you but always take care of you, provide for you and protect you.260
4. Is constructive, intent on building you up and building a family.261
5. Is someone who will always forgive you, and never hold a grudge.262
6. Is someone who will never criticize you or condemn you even if you deserve it,263 but may, if you wish to hear it, offer you constructive rebuke.264 If you are a wife, your husband loves you as his own body;265 he loves you as Christ loves the church and will sacrifice himself for you. His goal in life is to ensure your happiness and safety,266 and provide for you;267 he will never criticize or condemn you.268
10. The committed husband will provide for his wife and his children.274
It is easy to see how a marriage of equally committed spouses can be exceedingly pleasant.
On the other hand, it is also easy to see that if one spouse disregards these truths because of an incomplete commitment to scripture, the marriage can be exceedingly—and permanently—unpleasant:
1. He or she treats himself or herself as more important that you rather than the other way around;
2. Treats you the way that he feels to be appropriate rather than how he would himself prefer to be treated. Treats you with patience and kindness sometimes. Your mate is self centered. He or she sometimes embarrasses you and can be provoked to anger; he or she remembers wrongs and sometimes speaks evil of you to third parties. Your mate has clear limitations on what he or she will cooperate with you and support you. If you are a wife, your husband is someone who might even strike you; he may not provide for you and protect you. He may even require you to provide for him. If you are a husband, you have a wife who is dissatisfied because she does not have the peace of Jesus Christ. She nags and criticizes you.
4. He or she is not intent on building you up and building a family.
5. He or she is someone who will not really forgive, and who holds a grudge against you.
6. He or she criticizes you or condemns you because it appears to be appropriate. Speaking the truth in love, "tough love" or “constructive criticism” is often condemnation in disguise. If you are a wife, your husband is a man who loves you when he needs to, and when it is expedient; he is not self-sacrificing. His goal in life is to ensure his happiness and equanimity, and be provided for; he may well be critical.
8. If you are a husband, your wife will not yield to you or recognize your leadership. But instead she believes that yielding to a husband is somehow demeaning and it makes here less that equal. She feels free to speak of you critically to her friends.
9. He or she has to fights a desire to relate to someone else inappropriately. He or she may deceive you.
10. The husband relies on you, not on himself, to provide for the family.275
Much adversity - a lifetime of adversity - can be avoided by yielding to Second Corinthians 6:14 and refusing to yoke one's self with an unbeliever.
The husband who loves his wife as Christ loves the church will enable his wife to yield to him, treat him with respect, never criticize and never speak ill of him. And the wife who yields to her husband’s authority, treats him with respect and never speaks ill of him, or criticizes him will enable her husband to love her sacrificially and to the death, as Christ loves the Church, a love that is so strong and evident that it is never questioned. Each one inspires the other.
Marital Adversity Can Be Avoided
mutual obedience to scripture creates
an excellent marriage
There is really only one secret to an excellent marriage and that is love.276†
To be the recipient of the gift of sincere human love is marvelous. To be loved is like listening—transfixed—to a beautiful song, to be carried by its music and lost in its poetry is a rare gift indeed. To hear that song is life-changing. But to be the singer is an experience beyond all measure.
Love was made to be given away. It is like a diamond set in an engagement ring. It has only one use to the suitor and that is to be given away.
But what is this thing called love that becomes the center of life but which we can neither create nor acquire on our own? What is this thing that can be the apex of human experience or the deepest of human pain? What is this elusive and beautiful thing? Scripture tells us what it is, and scripture tells us how to acquire it and how to keep it. If we understand what scripture says about it and yield our will to God, we can acquire it and we can keep it.
Let us first consider what love is.
Biblical Greek has four different words for love. But English and some other languages have only one word for love and they use that one word ("love") to translate all of the different kinds of loves in the Bible. So when we read “love” in an English Bible, it could be referring to any one of the loves. If we are to understand what the Bible is saying about love, we must understand what these four loves are and where the words are used because they can't always be distinguished by the context. Three of the loves can often be distinguished by who it is who is loved. But the fourth love is drastically different from the others.
The first love is the love of friends. This Greek word is φιλία, or “philia.” This is the word from which we derive “Philedelpia,” The City of Brotherly Love. Philea is the love between friends.
The second love is the love of family. This Greek word is στοργή, or “storgé.” Storgé is the natural love of parents for children and children for parents and siblings and other family members or between people who found themselves together for some reason.277
The third is the love of lovers. This Greek word is έρως, or “eros.” Eros is the romantic love of lovers; it is a love that may or may not be expressed by physical intimacy.
These three loves are human loves and they are given to all of us. They are indeed beautiful, but they are limited as we are limited. They are human loves and they originate in us. But the Fourth Love is different.
The Fourth Love
The fourth love different because it is supernatural.
The fourth love is άγάπη, or “agápe.”278 The distinguishing characteristic of agápe is that it does not require anything in return. It is the purest form of love. Agápe is love that loves the unloveable. It is agápe that brought Jesus to the cross and sacrifice Himself for the sins of the world,279 which necessarily included the sins committed by the very persons who crucified Him.280 Agape is supernatural love. We know this because God is supernatural and God is agápe:
…God is Love [agápe]281
It is here, at agápe, that the spiritual reality of the presence of God becomes transformed into human experience, where faith becomes perception and where peace passes all understanding.282 It is here, and only here, that God makes Himself known to us when we express our love to Him by obedience.
Christ tells us plainly how we are to relate to God and how we can know Him:
"He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him."283
And it results in God making His abode (His home) with us spiritually:
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep my words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make our abode with him.284
Agápe is the oxygen of the experiential presence of God and agape is the key to the other three loves. It is a relationship based upon the expression of our love through obedience. We obey; and He makes Himself known to us. We see Him; we love Him more, and He comes closer. It is a magnificent dynamic, a spiral going upward. To know God is to experience eternal life here and now:
This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.285
Without love and obedience and forgiveness through Jesus Christ, God does not make Himself known. It is for this reason that those who have never trusted in Christ have absolutely no idea of what really happens to committed, obedient believers. They actually believe that Christianity is simply a matter of believing in God or not.
Our eternal state (condemnation or eternal life) turns on what we love because what we love is what He looks at. Love is what He looks at because He is love (agape):286
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.287
Relationships ultimately turn on agape and agape is expressed by obedience. It is like any relationship: love must be expressed. Serving others in various ways is the primary way that we express love to others. Serving God by obeying Him is the way that we express our love to Him. It is the way that we express our appreciation for what Christ did for us. It is the way that we express true worship, and in doing so acknowledge that He is indeed God. God will always be God, but unless we acknowledge by our sincere actions, by our choices, that He is our God, He will respect our choice and He will not be our God. He will be as distant from us as we are from Him. Knowing Him is a spiritual love affair.
Obedience without love is called legalism, and legalism does not provide the predicate necessary for experiential presence of God. God is not interested in us doing everything right. He is interested in us loving Him and loving one another and expressing that love by sincere fidelity, honesty, generosity, kindness, service, encouragement-by expressing that love by righteousness, which is obedience to His word.
The message of these scriptures is crystal clear. One agápes God (loves God) by obeying Him. And obedience means to relinquish sin. Unquestioned obedience is an act of faith and without faith, it is impossible to please Him:
But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.288
First Corinthians 13 describes what agápe is:
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not agape, I am become as a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not agape, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor , and though I give my body to be burned, and have not agape, it profits me nothing.
Agape suffers long, and is kind; agape envies not; agape vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Does not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil;
Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Agape never fails…289†
Thus, we see that 1) agápe is extremely important because we are nothing without it; 2) agápe is complete acceptance because it bears all things and 3) agape is completely unconditional because it endures all things. Agape is therefore the “love of all loves.”
The fact that God is this love speaks volumes toward who God is.290 God is an unconditional lover, and one does not know God without loving:
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love [agape].291
This fact has everything to do with marriage because the only thing that can really make a marriage work is love. And we can choose to love by acquiring agápe to light the original fire.
Why Agape is Important to Marriage
None of the four loves is limited to themselves. For instance, we may love a cousin with both the love of family and the love of friends and in such a case two loves become one greater love. The love of family is enhanced by the love of a friend and vice versa. Or one’s spouse may be a best friend as well as a lover.
The same is true for agápe. It can be generalized as well and it can be expressed either by itself or through any of the other three loves. It is like a stem-cell; it can grow into whatever love it finds itself to be. But agápe, being God, is infinitely powerful. Agápe is like a massive reservoir that becomes phileo if the love is of a friend, storge if the love is of family or eros if the love is the love of lovers. Or, in the case of the Christian marriage, Agápe empowers all four loves, so that the Christian lover can love with all four loves at once. Like the miracle of the water changed into wine, agápe mixed with the other (human) loves transforms them into something far greater. For instance, when agape is united with eros it becomes intoxicating. For many this lovely intoxication begins the instant that the lovers kneel down together and go to Him.
Agápe expressed through the love of lovers creates a bond of immense power and iron fidelity; it is a self-sacrificing love that is supernatural. When both spouses possess it and each one loves with it and is loved by it, it becomes impregnable to any external force.292 It is at once supernatural and emotional; and vulnerable and powerful, peaceful and magnificent. It is intimacy on both the physical and the spiritual planes at the same time. To love with such power and to be loved in return in a righteous Christian marriage is the capstone of all human experience and second only to knowing Christ.
The secret to an excellent marriage is love that knows no bounds, love that is both endless and inexhaustible. Love like this occurs only when agape is mixed with the other three loves. That mixture occurs with righteousness because it is yielding to scripture that opens the door to the presence of God and His agape.
The reader is again directed to the work entitled Endless Love for a deeper study of human love, its loss and its restoration.
Peace in the Midst of Adversity
HE WHO DOES THESE THINGS WILL
NEVER BE SHAKEN
Let us consider two “nevers.”
Both of these nevers are stark departures from perceived reality. They stand on the very outer limits of faith. They are the guardians of internal peace in the midst of adversity.
Although they were written a thousand years apart and for different reasons, both of them strike the same point: righteousness is a shield to the pain of adversity.
We find the first “never” in Psalm 15 (niv) when it teaches that he who yields to God’s call to righteousness will never be shaken:
Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
He whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from his heart;
and has no slander on his tongue,
who does his neighbor no wrong
and casts no slur on his fellow man,
who despises a vile man
but honors those who fear the Lord,
who keeps his oath
even when it hurts,
who lends his money without usury
and does not accept a bribe against
He who does these things
will never be shaken.
We find the second “never” in Second Peter Chapter 1 where we find perhaps the most astounding scripture in all of the bible:
Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things [righteousness], you will never stumble…293
Note that each of these scriptures speaks directly to actual, experiential divine participation in our lives. Help in the midst of trials comes from the supernatural peace of God:
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.294
The supernatural peace of God depends on the supernatural presence of God. And the supernatural presence of God depends on our heart: Do we love Him and do we express that love through surrender to His Word? If we do, we find another scripture that speaks directly to God's interaction with us: He makes Himself known to us.
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep my words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make our abode with him.295
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.296
These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.297
The presence of God within is what eternal life is:
And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom thou hast sent.298
Knowing God is experienced in this life now. This is the real power behind Christianity. Knowing God is eternal life and we experience eternal life through Christ:
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.299
Eternal life is Christ.300 Without Christ, there is no eternal life. With the gift of eternal life and the promises that accompany it, we became partakers of the divine nature301 and we experience His life now in this life when He is with us.302 Here we find a profound truth of Christianity ironically expressed in a worldly parable: It is not what you know but Who you know.
The most tangible characteristic of eternal life in this life is an inner peace that the Christian who is fully committed to obedience to scripture receives directly from God when that Christian surrenders his will to God:
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.303
On the other hand, the most tangible characteristic of disobedience is emptiness, confusion and lack of internal peace.
But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters case up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.304
God does not tell us to do anything that He does not empower us to do. Take courage. You are forging ahead into those trials that God, in his own wisdom, has prepared specifically for you. Being troubled is a choice (but not a sin), even in the midst of trials. Freedom from fear is a choice, even when we dying. Certainly , it can be very difficult, if not impossible, but it is our direction, our goal.
So what is the alternative when we open our eyes in the morning and face the lion of adversity? The alternative is faith in the very jaws of loss and pain. And the greater the trial, the more difficult that faith becomes. And the more difficult the faith becomes, the greater the significance of our choice to have faith becomes and the stronger we become.
The fear, the lack of faith, the reaction to the pain, and the emotional upheaval is the trial, not the sin. The sin is what we may do as a result of the trial, but forgiveness awaits us when we sin. If one curses God because of the trial, it is a sin, to be sure, but He knows that He is testing you and He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins305 which have been paid for at the cross.306 Without the cross He would still forgive as He did before Christ,307 but the penalty (death) would remain and eternal life would never be ours.
When we refuse, as a matter of our own choice, to yield to the destroyer and sin, God forges us into eternal value. It is in this way that we win. We win when we are crushed in the vice of adversity and we win when we are not. God cannot be out-done. In the end, He awaits us in a place where there is neither death308 nor tears:
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.309
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.310
Therefore, faith and obedience are the key to experiencing eternal life and experiencing internal spiritual peace in the midst of tragedy.
The pain of loss and the continuing reality of that pain must be borne and we must endure, but with Christ’s help.311 It is as necessary for us to endure the outrageous happenstance that is part of this life as it was for Christ,312 except He endured much, much more. He became sin for us.313
Righteous choices in the face of adversity are like golden bricks built upon a solid foundation of Christ:
But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test
the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.314
The bricks become a part of us, a new creature in Christ.315 They are eternal as we are eternal.316 Every brick is eternal because it is an act of righteousness.317 Their value lies in the very fact that they are forged in the fires of adversity. They cost something. Cheap love is worthless. Christ proved that for all of mankind.
So, the adversities that we encounter in this journey are far from meaningless: they define us.
The couple who loses a child and still exercises faith in God has created faith where faith would otherwise have died. The man or woman who experiences the untimely death of a spouse or a sibling can be pressed to the point of ultimate testing and emerge with a faith that is stronger that ever and the internal presence of God that goes with it. The spouse who honors a marital vow and lives out a grim marriage faithfully has honored God and has created fidelity and patience that would not otherwise exist. The man who to his own loss honors his word has created integrity. The woman who bears extreme physical pain and at the same time quietly submits to the will of God will bear the fruits of the Spirit and has inserted a backbone of iron into her faith. The Christian who faces an untimely death with courage and faith creates exactly that: courage and faith where they did not exist before-and takes them both into eternity with him. The disabled child who overcomes, perhaps a Helen Keller or a Joni Erickson Tada, creates cascades of faith, wisdom, inspiration, hope and love to herself and others.
It is certainly true that each of these people may have chosen not to be chosen to be the authors of such good at the cost of such pain. But at the same time, God required no less of His own Son.
What we endure on earth is not endured in vain. We were not created to exist and then to die for no reason. We were not placed here to spin away our precious years in self glorification.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.318
God is in the business of bringing beauty from ashes, joy from mourning and forming us into value from pain:319
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me…to comfort all that mourn…to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord…320
In order for God to offer to the gift of forgiveness and peace to an immoral humanity He had to pay our death-penalty for sin321 and become sin for us.322 But, like our choices in the face of adversity, the price of the cross had to be actually paid before our peace could be real. The cost in physical pain, in death, and in becoming sin for us was immense, but He did pay it. And because He paid it, we have been reconciled with God.323 But the pains of life will come. Although we can receive His peace in the midst of them, the pain of adversity is still there. And it must be endured. That is the nature of man.
ADVERSITIES ARE MADE TO BE CONFRONTED
Hiding from an adversity, or denying it, does not make it go away. God has created adversities as a means of forming us in the same way that He formed David. So how we confront adversities is just as important as how we respond to them.
There are numerous scriptures that address generally how we can avoid adversities, but few that speak to how we should deal with them. There are two scriptural means of dealing with adversities: prayer and wisdom. Let us first consider prayer.
God is a Spirit,324 and He communicates spiritually. The means of this communication is prayer (worship) “in Spirit and Truth.”325 Praying “in spirit” refers to praying from the heart, not simply repeated or unintelligible prayers.
To the Christian, this means more than simply being sincere when we pray. Because when we make a heartfelt commitment to Christ and are obedient to scripture, God, Who is spirit, comes to us and dwells inside of us.326 So, when we pray, we are not addressing God who is silent or distant; we are addressing God who is within us. We are addressing God who resides inside of us. We are not praying outward; we are praying inward.
Further, this presence of God inside of us is not theoretical, it is experienced; it is “knowing,” actually knowing God,327 not just believing in God. Simply believing that God exists is of no consequence whatever.328 Nothing turns on whether we acknowledge God’s existence; everything turns on whether we have trusted Christ and whether we actually know Him, because knowing God is what eternal life is.329 So, when we pray we are communicating spiritually with God who is within us spiritually. This communication, when deep and sincere, is to experience the actual presence of God. It is not theoretical; it is experiential.
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.330
Paul teaches us to
Be careful [anxious] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.331
The personal histories of the prayer warriors of the past and present all paint a similar picture. It is as if they see their Christian lives like an expanding globe filled with good. It grows larger and more beautiful daily as they yield to God’s will, but the good remains encased in the globe. And as they descend into deeper and deeper prayer, the globe finally breaks. And good, like massive rivers of light, spills over the dams of adversity and fills their entire valley.
GOD GIVES TWO TYPES OF LIFE. ONE IS our
life and the other is his life. ONLY ONE OF
Where is God when we are dying? Where is He when the young die?
Here is one explanation with two parts:
The first part of the explanation is obvious. We are all mortal and we will all die. It is just a matter of time and only God can determine when that time will be. Some lives are long; some are short. Ironically, however, most of us live their lives as if there will always be a tomorrow. But there are only a certain number of tomorrows.
The second part of the explanation is more difficult to embrace. The second part of the explanation is that death is not the ultimate tragedy. Death is not the ultimate tragedy because, in addition to the fleeting hours of our mortal life, we, as Christians, have been given eternal life which is the ultimate gift of God who loves us.334
Eternal life is given to the soul, not to the body. We know this because all bodies will die whether they are saved or not:
…it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.335
Although bodies will die, all souls will not die:
Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death…336
…everyone who lives and believes in Me [Jesus Christ] will never die.337
In Ezekiel the Creator speaks directly through the prophet and says:
Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth shall die.338
In this passage, God makes clear that the soul is not the same thing as the body.
Instead, He draws a clear delineation between the body and the soul and this clear line between the two is reiterated throughout scripture: There is a soul and there is a body and who we are is the soul, not the body. We are souls walking around in bodies.
The most comprehensive delineation of the soul as opposed to the body (as well as the fact that who we are is the soul) is found in the parable of Lazarus.339 Lazarus was a beggar who was scorned by a rich man daily. The rich man never gave to Lazarus, even though he could have. Eventually both Lazarus and the rich man died and Lazarus went to the bosom of Abraham but the rich man went to Hades, which is the abode of the dead.340 Following their death we find that they converse about their life and speak of their respective circumstances after death.
Thus, the respective souls of these men exist after death and are conversing intelligently and are reaping the results of the choices they made on earth. The bodies are not there because their bodies have died and lie buried somewhere on the earth. But their souls survived the death of their bodies and their souls are alive.
When Jesus gives the parable of Lazarus, He is speaking of the souls as being the very persons who had died. Who they were was not their bodies. Who they were, their thoughts, their desires, their loves and all of the non-physical aspects of them was who they were and all of who they were is embodied in their souls.
The fact that the dead are not simply the dead physical bodies can be seen by the scriptures that teach of the resurrection of the bodies of the just (the first resurrection)341 and resurrection of the unjust (the second resurrection).342 Everyone will be resurrected and reunited with their bodies. But one group will be resurrected for eternal life and the other for eternal death following the final judgment.343
Paul differentiates between the body and the soul in Romans 7 when he speaks of the “inward man” and the “flesh.” He laments the influence of the flesh (sin) on the inward man (the soul). Paul clarifies that the person that he really is the inward man, but sometimes the inward man serves the law of his members (sin):
For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.344
He wishes to be delivered from the effect of this “body of death” and, indeed, he has found the answer in Jesus Christ:
O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with thee mind I myself serve the law or God; but with the flesh the law of sin.345
The effect of death is to deprive the body of life, not to deprive the soul of life. The soul continues to live after death until, unless it has relied upon Jesus Christ, the final judgment. So there are two deaths. The first death is the death of the body and the second death is the death of the soul.
By coming to Christ we can avoid the second death. That is why Jesus Christ is so important. Salvation is when we turn to Christ and trust in Him for the forgiveness of all sin. If we do that then He gives us eternal life and we avoid the second death, which is eternal.
The second death is exactly what scripture says it is: it is death. It is real death, not eternal torment. God does not burn unbelievers in hell for eternity; there is no such thing as eternal torment for unbelievers. It is simply not in scripture. Anyone who questions this should open a concordance to the word "torment" and "eternal" or similar words. Eternal torment applies only to Satan, the antichrist and the false prophet.346
However, that is not to say that those who have rejected Christ will avoid any consequence for sins other than death. There is indeed a hell and, as we learn from the Parable of Lazarus, there are consequences to the soul between first and the second death.
During this life, we are a soul united with a living body. We are souls that are expressing themselves through bodies. To put it in colloquial language, our bodies are our “avatar,” our means of expression and interface in the material world. So when we die, it is our bodies, our avatar, that dies, not us. We, the real we, continues to live.347
We are not sparks of life that begin with a Darwinian accident and end in dust. We are souls created by a Creator and we will live for eternity if we drink from the well of eternal life offered by Christ.348
Whosoever drinketh of this water that I shall give him shall never thirst: but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.349
It is most comforting and enlightening to contemplate the difference between the body and the soul. The concept is etched into scripture and when we permit scripture to alter our perspective, we find that it is no longer necessary to mysticize the concept of eternal life, or to lament the tragedy of untimely death, or indeed, to fear our own death.
If we choose not to drink of the water of eternal life, we will not experience eternal life. Instead, we will continue to exist as a morally dead soul and when our body dies, our soul will, in the end, be judged and it will die just as our body did.
It all turns on righteousness. Spiritual life or spiritual death: it is all a question of righteousness; it is a question of good or evil, a question of moral or immoral. God has placed us in a world that is a moral free-for-all and He has done it for a reason. It is no accident that we are forced to make difficult choices and endure pain. There is a reason for it, and that reason is that in this way alone can He create eternal value. We become what we freely choose. And we cannot freely choose unless both options confront us. We live in a world of moral light and moral darkness. Ultimately morality is the center of it all and we choose:
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil…he that doeth truth cometh to the light…350
We “drink” of the water of eternal life when we trust in Christ for the forgiveness of all sin. At that point morally dead souls become alive again.
The soul is dead because of sin unless Christ makes it alive by paying the penalty for sin:
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened [made alive] together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses…351
And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins…352
The soul that sinneth, it shall die.353
And how do we know that our soul has become alive? When a dead soul becomes alive-and no longer intends to embrace death by committing immoral acts-it experiences the presence of the Creator:
He that hath My commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.354
Eternal life is therefore not simply an extension of mortal life. It is an experience. It is spiritual life and it is an entirely different life from our physical life. That is the reason why the experience is called being "born again."355 It spiritual life that we receive before the body dies and it is intended to be experienced.
Mortal life has a beginning and it has an end. Eternal life does not. Eternal life, being eternal, has neither beginning nor end. Eternal life has a point of commencement for us because we receive it at one point in time, but what we receive is life that has existed for eternity. Eternal life is therefore not simply an extension of mortal life; it is something entirely different.
Eternal life is Christ’s life:
“I am ... the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.”356
Eternal life is a supernatural life that is superimposed on mortal life and lived and experienced in this life and thereafter. Eternal life is knowing God.357 We experience this life until we mar it with immorality and sin. It is a marvelous life that must be experienced to be comprehended:
“In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”358
One day the mortal life of the Christian will end. But is that day the ultimate adversity?
Death of the Redeemed
For the Christian, that day of his death will be like the lady who returned to her home on a cold day. She is tired, and rather than hanging her ragged coat in the closet, she walks into her home and lets it slip to the floor behind her. But the real person, who she really is, walks on. That is death for the Christian. The ragged body slips off to the floor, but the person continues on. That is what Christ meant when He said, "I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish."359 He did not mean that our bodies would never die. He meant that our souls will never die. Our stay here is temporary. It always has been.
What of the man, the son or the daughter who dies apparently without accepting Christ and without receiving eternal life?
We know first that God is in control360 so no matter what the deceased had done or said before his demise, he or she may have been saved. God is not limited by the uninformed choices of man. Salvation that occurs moments before death is no more limited than the boundaries of God’s omnipotence. God is limited by neither time nor circumstance. He is not limited by the roller-coaster of youth, the depth of a depression, the death of love or the bullet of an assailant. And He will not permit one pebble on the coast of His eternity to be misplaced by the thoughtless designs of anyone. All good, all evil and all else are under His just control. There is always hope for salvation.
A man or a woman, however, who does die without Christ does not face an eternity in the flames of hell. After the body dies, the soul faces a stay in hell, which may or may not be horrendous, depending upon the sins committed during life. Each person will be judged by a just God based upon what he did in life.361 But in the end his soul will die.362
Many evangelical churches teach that those who do not turn to Christ during this lifetime will be sentenced to be tormented for eternity. There is no scripture that makes this statement. On the contrary, scripture repeatedly states that the inescapable result of sin is death, not eternal torment.363
If you are the parent, the spouse or friend of someone who rejected Christ to his dying breath, you still do not know that he was not saved. But even if he was not, you may rest assured that although he will be judged for his sins, he will be rightly judged and he will not be burned in hell forever.
GOD HAS NOT EXEMPTED HIMSELF FROM PAIN
Although scripture makes it clear that God is the ultimate cause of all things, including pain, it is likewise clear that God did not spare Himself from either physical or spiritual pain.364
God’s justice is inevitable and sin results in death. For mankind, it is either the death of Christ or our own death. Our choice.
Perhaps one of the most profoundly illuminating scriptures relating to the issue of pain in this life is found in Revelation 5. This passage is an analogy, a story, that teaches the depth of the effect of the cross. It seems that the time had come in heaven to open the book containing the decrees of God, because the end of mankind was fast approaching. But not just anyone could open the book. They needed someone who had the credentials to open it. So, heaven was searched in an effort to locate someone who had the credentials and could break the seal so the book could be read. There was only one person who had the credentials to break the seal and that person was Jesus Christ.
It is certainly not surprising that Christ had the credentials to open the scrolls. But what is very surprising is why He had the credentials to open them. This scripture says that Christ had the credentials to open the scrolls because He was slain.
Thou art worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain and hast redeemed us …365
This passage does not give any other reason for Christ’s qualification. It does not mention the fact that Christ had the requisite credentials because He is the Son of God,366 or because He is divine367 and the second person of the Trinity, or because He is the light of the world,368 or because He is God incarnate,369 or even because all things had been made through Him.370 He was and is all of those things, but none of these things are mentioned as the reason why He was worthy to open the scroll. Scripture gives only one reason why He is worthy to break the seal and open the book and that reason is because he was slain.
The point is that He had to actually do it.
He had to suffer. He had to actually die the death. God the Father did not simply decree by divine fiat that the sins of the world were forgiven. Instead, He required Christ had to become sin for us371 and to die the death Himself to satisfy divine justice and exculpate man from the inevitable end: eternal death.
So, pain is universal and inevitable. God does not exempt Himself from it. And we who are made in His image are required to suffer as well. When we do, let us remember that God did not exempt Himself from pain, excruciating pain.
The crucifixion is an overwhelming statement of How God sees both sin and righteousness. Sin is death; righteousness is life. At the cross Christ died as the result of the sins of others (us) and was later resurrected to eternal life because of His own righteousness and divinity Therefore, the cross is the ultimate statement of the truth that the wages of sin is death372 and that the fruit of righteousness in Christ is eternal life.373
All who have placed their trust in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins have appropriated Christ’s voluntary374 sacrifice for the payment of their sins. They are in Christ and they will never die because they have eternal life.375 This gift of eternal life is free for the taking376 for whoever wants it.377 It is free, because only Christ could earn it and only Christ did earn it,378 and can therefore do with it as He chooses. And He chooses to give it to whoever will take it.379 Once given, the gift can never be lost because no man, no matter what he does, has either the authority or the power to alter what God has already done.380†
In order to give us this gift, God did not exempt Himself from pain. He had a cross to bear, and we, who are made in His image have ours to bear as well.
We do not live a life that is defined by the span between a birth and a death. We are here for a purpose. We have been created by our Creator. We are not accidents of evolution in a universe of night. We are here for a purpose. We have been made by the Creator for the purpose of bearing the fruits of righteousness; we are branches in the vineyard of God yielding fruits of righteousness. We are making honor, truth, kindness, wisdom, faith, love…
We are creating value.
If what we create is to be significant, righteousness has to be a choice. It is a choice to do right in the face of trials and temptations. The choices that we make during this life define us. Our choices are who we are. God creates us. But out choices create who we are. It is ultimately our choice to be conformed to the image of Christ or the image of the world.
He places us in an environment of adversities where He does not impose His will on us. He gives us an even playing field. He creates a world where righteous choices mean something because they can be difficult. He places us in a world where we make a lifetime of choices each of which is morally right or morally wrong or morally neutral, and we live with the consequences.
He places us in an environment where He does not impose Himself on us because He has created us to love. He has created us to love because He is love.381 And, exactly like righteousness, love requires a background where one can choose. There must be a predicate that renders love to be significant. It was once said by a man of great faith that cheap love is worthless.382 He was right.
In the end, when each of us must face the prospect of an eternity of endless death or endless life, we look back over our years and see that all of life has fashioned us. What we did with all of the good and all of the bad, all of the ecstasies and all of the pain, whatever it was, has made us who we are. God created us in His image and that creation did not end when we were born. It had just begun.
For Those Who Question
Why believe anything the Bible says? Is it not just a book of Jewish myths?
Indeed, how can anyone really believe in God? Don’t we all live a life without really knowing whether God is there or not? God is invisible, intangible and silent. How can anyone believe that He exists?
These are valid questions and they deserve answers.
There are, of course, volumes written both for and against the validity and the truth of scripture. But most people do not read them before they come to believe that the Bible is true. There are many more volumes written about the existence or the non-existence of God, but practically no one bothers to read them before making a decision for Christ. How can anyone make a rational decision about God?
The answer is quite simple. They try it. Books don’t help. Being religious does not help. Pretending to believe does not help. Only God can show you that He is real. And if He doesn’t, you will simply never know. It is as simple and as terrible as that.
He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.383
But if God is God, then He is perfectly capable of making Himself known in no uncertain terms to anyone and everyone - and known in such a way that it is clear that the knowledge of Him is actual and not simply an intellectual conclusion or a psychological “crutch” constructed by a needy mind.
So, why does He not make Himself actually known? The answer is that He does make Himself known. That is the reason that there are so many committed Christians.
But it is by invitation only. He issues the invitation, and we must accept it. If we don’t accept the invitation, we can’t go to the party.
The invitation is issued to all.384 So you are invited. You may choose to accept the invitation or you may decline it. Your choice - it is always your choice.
What must you do to accept the invitation? First the acceptance of the invitation must be sincere, because if God is God, He is going to know your heart. You must, in good faith, intend to accept the forgiveness offered by Jesus Christ. You must mean what you say to Him (there are no magic words here). And all the faith that is necessary is the faith to trust in Jesus Christ sincerely for the forgiveness of all sin, even though you are really not sure He is even there.
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.385
Note that this scripture does not say to trust in Him because you a certain, or because you just believe, or because someone told you to trust. It says to be sincere; trust "with all your heart."
One does not know God and then trust in Christ. One trusts in Christ in order to know God. Knowing God comes as a result of trusting, not vice versa. You don't look for and find God like finding a lost car-key. You don't find God. God finds you. So, don't expect to know God or really anything about Him until you come to Christ. You can't know Him until He discloses Himself to you.
Don't fall for the lie that tells you that this act of faith is "intellectually impossible" or that it is somehow a "violation of who you really are" or that it is simply "unreasonable." If you sincerely trust in Christ for the forgiveness of all sin and that trust is foolishness, then you have lost nothing. But if you fail to trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of all sin and it is not foolishness then you have lost everything.
When Christ was sacrificed on the cross, He paid for all of our sins (past, present and future). He was later resurrected demonstrating that His sacrifice was effective and that the penalty for sin had been paid.386
We become forgiven and sinless in God’s eyes when we appropriate the work of Christ on the Cross by our decision to rely upon what He did there for us. That is absolutely all we have to do to be cleansed from sin. There is no penance to pay (He paid it all), no hail-Mary’s, no priest, no preacher, no confessor. Just you and Him:
Believe [trust] on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.387
And we must all be cleansed from sin in order to become someone to whom God will disclose Himself. That cleansing occurs when we come to Christ.
So, to accept the invitation all you have to do is to honestly trust in Jesus Christ. You don't have to know that it is true in order to try it. One can know that God is real only after God discloses Himself.388
Knowing Him is the gift of eternal life:
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.389
So, after you have trusted in Christ (salvation), when does He disclose Himself to you?
He discloses Himself to you when you yield your will to His and obey His word.
He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.390
If a man love Me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him and We will come unto him, and make our abode with him.391
God’s gift of eternal life comes when you trust in Christ. This is the gift of salvation and it is an unconditional free gift, free for the asking. But knowing God - having Him disclose Himself to you - is conditional. It is conditioned on how much you have yielded to Him, or how you intend to live your life conforming to His Word. If you surrender your will to Christ, He will disclose Himself to you. When He discloses Himself to you, you will love Him and discover that all that you never believed was true really is true.
If you do not obey His word, He will not make Himself known to you. Why? Because God does not dwell with those who are willfully and intentionally committing sin.
This presence of God is not theoretical, it is actual and it is experienced. This the reason why so many people tell of their salvation and remain Christians all of their lives. This is “knowing” God,392 not just believing in God. Simply believing that God exists is of no consequence whatever.393 Everything turns on whether we have actually trusted Christ and whether we actually know Him; nothing turns on your opinion as to whether God exists or not.
So, the “formula” here is to trust and obey. It is not necessary to prove yourself or perfect yourself before God discloses Himself to you. What is important is to place your faith and trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and sincerely surrender to His will. After you do that, He will disclose Himself to you and empower you to turn from sin. He will show you and you will understand. He will show Himself to you just as He has shown all the others who did the same thing over the past two millenniums.
Christians are not Christians because they liked a particular set of rules or chose particular brand of theology. They are not Christians because they like the idea of a sacrificial Saviour or because they just like the way the Bible set everything up. Most of them never read the Bible and had no idea of what it says. They are Christians because they decided to trust in Christ, discovered the presence of God and found it to be wonderful. In short, they are Christians because they tried something and it proved to be true.
To the Atheist
To the avowed atheist, let me say that you may be far closer to the Truth than you realize because you are uncompromising and you are honest with yourself. You refuse to engage with an imaginary theological construct for the purpose of creating some type of artificial mental repose (theological liberalism). My hat is off to you. You demand experiential reality.
But if what I am saying is true, then that same uncompromising demand for truth should take you to the point where you try it. We all live a life of borders and one of them is the border of reason and observation that encloses the atheist. But my friend, you will never know where the border really is until to walk beyond it.
This is my challenge. You claim to be rational but in fact your decision not to try Christ is irrational. It is irrational not to make a decision to place your trust in Christ’s forgiveness and to surrender to His will if He will disclose Himself to you. It is irrational not to try.
If there is no God, then nothing will occur following your leap into faith and you have lost nothing. That tired old argument that simply trying is somehow a breach of your personal honor is, well, irrational because you lose nothing and prove me wrong at the same time.
Quite frankly, if you do have the courage to walk beyond the border of your own reason just to see if there is anything there, you will be in for quite a surprise. It certainly surprised me.
1. Deuteronomy 33:27 “The eternal God is thy refuge …”
2. Genesis 1:26 “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…”
3. Psalms 104:31 “The glory of the Lord shall endure forever…”
4. First John 4:8 "…God is love."
5. Exodus 3:2 “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM … thus shall thou say unto the children of Israel …”
6. Malachi 3:6 “For I am the Lord. I change not…”
7. Exodus 20:5 “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image … thou shalt not bow down thyself to them … for I, the LORD thy God am a jealous God visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation … “ (the First Commandment); Exodus. 34:14; De 4:24, 5:9, 6:15; Jos 24:19; Na 1:2; 1 Corinthians 10:22.
8. Psalms 103:19 “The Lord hath prepared His throne in the heavens; and His kingdom ruleth over all.”
9. Revelation 19:6 “… the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” Job 42:2; Genesis 18:14; Matthew 19:26. God, however, cannot or will not deny Himself. For instance, He cannot sin.
10. 1 John 3:19 “… For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” Job 37:16; Psalms 147:5 “…His understanding is infinite.”
11. Romans 9:29 “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son …”; 1 Peter 1:2 “…elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father …”;see also Acts 2:23 and Romans 11:2.
12. Matthew 10:30 “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
13. Matthew 10:29 “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.”
14. Genesis 1. (Entire chapter)
15. Isaiah 14:24 “The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand...”
16. Deuteronomy 32:39 “I am He and there is no god with me…I heal.”
17. Psalms 32:8 “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye.”
18. Psalms 23:3 “…He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake.”
19. John 14:13 “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Hebrews 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
20. John 14:21 “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”
21. John 14:23 “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”
22. James 1:5 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith…”
23. Romans 5:17 “…they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness … “; Romans 4:11 “… that righteousness may be imputed unto them…”
24. Psalms 50:15 “And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee…”
25. Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”
26. John 8:36 “If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed”; John 8:32 “If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
27. Psalms 107:3 “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.”
28. Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
29. Luke 12:7 “But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
30. Hebrews 4:13 “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do.”
31. Revelation 19:6 “…for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”
32. Job 1:12 “And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he [Job] hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand..”
33. Colossians 1:16 "For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him."
34. Hebrews 4:13 “…all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him…”
35. Deuteronomy 32:4 “All His ways are right.” Job 34:12 “Surely God will not act wickedly, and the Almighty will not pervert justice.”
36. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
37. James 1:13 “…God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man; but every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust…”
38. Revelation 19:6 “… the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” Job 42:2; Genesis 18:14; Matthew 19:26.
39. 1 John 3:19 “… For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” Job 37:16; Psalms 147:5 “…His understanding is infinite.”
40. 1 John 3:20 “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” Matthew 10:29 “
41. The Hebrew word that is translated “evil” in this passage can mean 1) evil as in a malicious, immoral act, or 2) evil as in a disaster (as translated in the NIV) or “harm” (as translated in Jeremiah 39:12 (KJV)) or 3) it can mean a consequence which is the result of an evil act of men, as in, “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion…ye that put far away the evil day…and drink wine in bowls…but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.” (Amos 6:1,3,6). When Isaiah 45:7 is read with Deuteronomy 32:4, Job 34:12 and James 1:13, it is clear that its meaning cannot be 1, but is instead either 2 or 3. See Harris, L., Archer, G., Waltke, B. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Chicago: Moody Press. 1980. Print. s.v. 2191 at page 854 vol. 2. See also Keil, C.F., Delitzsch, F. Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans. 1975. Print. Vol. VII, p. 221 (Isaiah 45:7).
42. Isaiah 45:7; the Hebrew translated “evil” is better rendered “tragedy”, as it is in the New American Standard Version.
43. Deuteronomy 6:13 “Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve Him...”
44. Luke 12:4-5 (emphasis supplied).
45. 1 Peter 2:6-8
46. Romans 9:18-20
48. Revelation 21:8 “…unbelieving…and all liars…shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
49. Revelation 20:10 “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”
50. Matthew 25:46; Second Thessalonians 1:9; Jude 1:7.
51. Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
52. Romans 6:23 "The wages of sin is death."
53. Romans 5:8 " But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
54. See Believe in God which may be downloaded from biblebooks.co
55. John 8:51 " Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death."
56. First John 5:11 " And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son."
57. Genesis 6:5 “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually…And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.”
58. Genesis 15:13 “And He said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years.”
59. Exodus 7:3 “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh shall not harken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments”
60. Exodus 11:1, 4-5 “And the Lord said unto Moses, Yet will I bring one plague more upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go …About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt. And all the first-born in the land of Egypt shall die…”
61. Exodus 14:27 “And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained no so much as one of them.”
62. Jeremiah 32:26 “Therefore thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the Chaldeans, and unto the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he shall take it.”
63. 1 Samuel. 6:19 “He smote the men of Bethshemesh because they had looked into the ark of the Lord…”
64. Numbers 11:1 “And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it; and His anger was kindled: and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.”
65. Numbers 11:33 “…the wrath of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord smote the people with a very great plague.”
66. Genesis 19:24 “Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire…” For many, this teaching is beyond the scope of rational belief. That is His intent. He wants us to make a free choice, just like the people of Sodom made a free choice.
67. Romans 5:8 “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
68. Matthew 24:37 “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”
69. See Revelation chapters 6 - 13..
70. First John 4:8 "…God is love."
71. The terms pain and adversity are treated as synonymous in this work.
72. First John 4:8 "…God is love."
73. John 2:8 "Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Now draw some out, He said, and take it to the master of the banquet. They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine."
74. Matthew 8:3 "Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” He said, “be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed…"
75. John 9:6,7 "Jesus…spat on the ground, made some mud, and applied it to the man’s eyes. Then He told him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came back seeing."
76. Matthew 17:27 "Go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee."
77. Mark 6:20-28
78. Isaiah 61:3
79. Isaiah 45:6-10
80. Zechariah 13:8
81. Isaiah 45:8
82. Zechariah 13:8
83. Isaiah 45:6-10
84. Ezekiel 3:20 “When the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.”-
85. First Samuel 16:7 “for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”
86. Jeremiah 17:10 “I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” See also Isaiah 64:4-6 where God states that He meets with him that works righteousness, but in one sense our righteous acts can be as “filthy rags.”
87. First John 3:9 “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”
88. John 10:28, 29 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: and I give them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.”
89. Revelation 21:7,8 “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the cowardly, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
90. Isaiah 6:9,10 “And He said, Go, and tell this people, hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert and be healed.”
91. Matthew 13:15 “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear..”
92. Romans 8:18 “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
93. Romans 5:12 “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned.” Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
94. Romans 8:6 “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded [oriented toward righteousness] is life and peace.”
95. Proverbs 10:25
96. Matthew 25:46
97. Romans 5:21
98. 1 John 4:8 “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” The love in this passage is “agápe,” which means a love that is wholly unconditional.
99. Romans 12:17 “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.”
100. Psalms 25:21 “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait upon thee.” Proverbs 11:3 “The integrity of the upright shall guide them…”
101. Titus 2:2,10 “That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience … shewing all good fidelity…”
102. Psalms 27:14 “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart…”; Psalms 31:24 “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.”
103. 2 Peter 1:5 “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge…”
104. Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering [patience], gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness [humility], temperance [self-control]…”
105. 2 Peter 1:7 “And to godliness [add] brotherly kindness…”
106. Romans 8:10 “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”; Romans 8:6 “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
107. Genesis 3:10 “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil…And the eyes of both of them were opened.” See also Romans 1:19,21 “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it to them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse...when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God...and their foolish heart was darkened.”
108. Jude 1:11 “Woe unto them! for they have gone the way of Cain...”
109. Judges 21:25 “In those days...every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
110. Exodus 20
111. Malachi 2:17, 3:5“Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied Him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good...I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those who oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless...”
112. Psalms 1:1 “Blessed is the man who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful, but his delight is in the law of the Lord and in His law doth he meditate day and night.” Psalms 11:7 “For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.”
113. Proverbs 21:12 “He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness and honor.”
114. Isaiah “Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness; let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it.” Isaiah 32:17 “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever.”
115. Romans 3:22 “…the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe…”
116. Second Corinthians 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Romans 5:8 “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
117. First John 2:2 “And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
118. Romans 6:5 “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.”
119. Genesis 2:17 “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
120. John 15:1,2
121. Galatians 5:22. These are the qualities that we are to pursue.
122. John 15:16.
123. 1 Corinthians 3:9
124. 1 John 2:16,17
125. Romans 12:2
126. John 15:5 “I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”
127. Romans 8:29 “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
128. Romans 5:21 “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”
129. Second Corinthians 3:18 “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
130. Luke 22:31.
131. Matthew 16:18 “And I say also unto thee, That thou are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
132. Genesis 4:8 “…Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.”
133. 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
134. Second Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come..”
135. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15
136. See the interplay between darkness and light in Ephesians 5.
137. John 3:19
138. Revelation 21:8 "…all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." † When, in this verse, the categorizations of sin reach the sin of lying, scripture uses a singular emphasis by referring to all liars."
139. Exodus 20:15 "Thou shalt not steal."
140. Luke 6:37 Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned." † Obedience to this verse and the verse following, "Forgive, and you will be forgiven" is one of the keys to internal peace and spiritual freedom. See the author's Endless Love.
141. First Corinthians 6:9 " Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals."
142. Psalm 119:119 “[You reject] all the wicked of the earth like dross…”
143. John 5:24
144. John 17:3
145. Revelation 21:8 “…unbelieving…shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second [eternal] death.” The final condemnation of the unbeliever results in eternal death, not eternal torment. See the author’s Fate of Unbelievers.
146. Proverbs 10:24 “…the righteous is an everlasting foundation.”
147. Romans 8:1 "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
148. 1 Corinthians 5:10.
149. Romans 14:12 “So then every one of us shall give an account of himself to God.”
150. Matthew 13:30
151. Matthew 13:43”
152. Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
153. John 15:5 " "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.'
154. 2 Samuel 7:17 “And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established forever before thee; thy throne shall be established forever.”
155. 1 Samuel 17, 18
156. 1 Samuel 18:7 “and the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands and David his ten thousands, and Saul was very wroth…”
157. 1 Samuel 18:10 “And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul...” The NASV renders this passage as follows, “Now it came about on the next day that an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul, and he raved in the midst of the house, while David was playing the harp with his hand, as usual; and a spear was in Saul’s hand. And Saul hurled the spear for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David escaped from his presence twice.”
158. 1 Samuel 18:11 “And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice. And Saul was afraid of David because the Lord was with him, and was departed from Saul.”
159. See 1 Samuel 18:30 - 19:24
160. Exodus 20:13 “Thou shalt not kill.”
161. Deuteronomy 32:4 “All His ways are right.” Job 34:12 “Surely God will not act wickedly, and the Almighty will not pervert justice.”
162. Exodus 20:13
163. Ezekiel 18:20 “The soul that sinneth, it shall surely die.”; Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
164. James 1:13 “…God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man; but every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust…”
165. Romans 9:18 “...He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy and whom He will He hardeneth.”
166. 1 Samuel 18:13 “[Because Saul was afraid of David], Saul removed him from him, and made him his captain over a thousand and he went out and came in before the people.”
167. 1 Samuel 18:14 “… David behaved himself wisely in all his ways.”
168. 1 Samuel 19:9,10 “And the evil spirit from the Lord was upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his javelin in his hand: and David played with his hand. And Saul sought to smite David even to the wall with the javelin; but he slipped away…”
169. 1 Samuel 19:23 “So Michal let David down through a window: and he went, and fled, and escaped.”
170. 1 Samuel 16:13”Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward.”
171. 1 Samuel 24:4.
172. 1 Samuel 24:10.
173. 1 Samuel 24:12.
174. 1 Samuel 16:12 (Here Samuel anointed David king in Saul’s place).
175. Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”
176. 1 Kings 15:5 “... David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that He commanded him all the days of his life, save in the matter of Uriah the Hittite
177. Acts 13:22
178. Psalm 18:15
179. Psalm 119.97
180. John 1:1
181. Genesis 35:10
182. Second Chronicles 2:1 “These were the sons of Israel: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad and Asher..”
183. Genesis 37
184. Genesis 39
185. Genesis 41
186. Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
187. Psalm 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
188. Psalm 18:1,2 “I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.:.
189. Psalm 119:97,98 “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.”
190. James 2:20 “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”
191. First John 4:8 “God is love [agape].”
192. †Sins committed by believers destroy their relationship with Christ because the believers' experiential relationship with Christ in this life is contingent upon righteousness (obedience). One cannot continue to sin and enjoy the presence of the savior. "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him." John 14:21
194. John 14:21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Meshall be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose myself [make Myself known] to him."
195. Psalms 119:105
196. Psalms 17:4
197. Psalm 119:130
198. Proverbs 21:21
199. Proverbs 21:16. Those who are spiritually dead know it.
200. 2 Corinthians 6:14 “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers, for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness.”
201. Exodus 20:15
202. Exodus 20:17
203. 1 Corinthians 6:9,10 “Be not deceived: neither fornicators .... nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, or extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” Romans 1:26,27 “God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.”
204. Exodus 20:16 “Thou shalt not bear false witness...” Proverbs 12:22 " Lying lips [are] abomination to the LORD."
205. Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands love your wives, even a Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it.”
206. Ephesians 5:22 “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.”
207. Proverbs 17:18 “A man void of understanding striketh hands, and becometh surety in the presence of his friend.”
208. Matthew 18:22 “Then came Peter unto Him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but Until seventy times seven.”
209. Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment he judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”
210. 1 Corinthians 13:7,8 “[Love] beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. [love] never fails.” This scripture teaches that if it fails, it is not really love.
211. James 1:26 “If any man among you seem to be religious, and brideleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.”
212. Romans 1:28-30 “God gave them over to a reprobate mind ... being filled with all unrighteousness ... full of envy, murder ... malignity; whisperers [gossips], backbiters, haters of God ...” Gossip (slander) is one of the worst of all sins. Scripture places it on the same level as murder.
213. Psalm 101:5
214. Proverbs 20:19 (NASV)
215. Proverbs 6:6 “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways and be wise ... a little sleep, a little slumber: so shall thy poverty come ... and thy want as an armed man.”
216. Proverbs 26:12 “Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.”
217. Proverbs 12:2 “A good man obtaineth favor of the Lord, but a man of wicked devices will He condemn.”
218. Proverbs 12:15
219. Proverbs 12:21 KJV reads “There shall no evil happen to the wicked, but the wicked shall be filled with mischief.” The word that is translated “evil” refers to “sorrow that is the harvest and product of sin.” See C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsh, Commentary on the Old Testament , transl. from the German (Eerdman’s Pub. 1975) vol. 9, p. 64
220. Proverbs 12:28 “In the way of righteousness is life and in the pathway thereof, there is no death.”
221. Proverbs 12:16 “A fool’s wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame.”
222. Proverbs 14:14 “The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.”
223. Proverbs 14:15 “The simple believe every word, but the prudent man looketh well to his going.” This proverb applies to scripture as well as life in general; a close look proves that scripture is reliable and that it is all true.
224. Proverbs 14:27 “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.”
225. Proverbs 14:26 “The fear of the Lord is strong confidence...” Fearing God and (therefore) yielding and obeying scripture creates a history of wise decisions, each one of which instills understanding and confidence in scripture.”
226. Proverbs 22:3
227. Proverbs 22:1
228. Proverbs 22:5
229. Proverbs 22:4
230. Proverbs 22:24
231. Proverbs 5:3-6 “For the lips of a strange woman drop as a honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: But her end is bitter as wormwood, and sharp as a two edged sword. Her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them.”
232. Proverbs 6:19 “... the Lord doth hate ... a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”
233. Proverbs 9:8
234. Proverbs 26:22,23 “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out; so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceases.” Proverbs 20:19 “…do not associate with a gossip.” (nasv)
235. Psalm 101:5 “Whosoever privily slandereth his neighbour him will I cut off.
236. Romans 1:29 “Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness ... murder, debate [contentions], deceit, malignity; wisperers [gossips], backbiters, haters of God...”
237. Proverbs 13:3 “He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life, but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.”
238. Proverbs 12:10 “Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.”
239. Proverbs 14:9 “Fools make a mock of sin: but among the righteous there is favor.”
240. Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
241. John 14:21
242. Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”
243. Romans 5:8 “…while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” The gift of salvation is therefore Christ’s to give, not ours to earn. And Christ chooses to give it to whomever wants it: “And whosoever will let him come take the water of life…” Revelation 22:17.
244. Revelation 22:17 “... And let him that is thirsty come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. ... And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. ...”
245. Romans 8:38 “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
246. Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life.” Ezekiel 18:4 “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth shall die...”
247. John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.”
248. John 14:21 “He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them…I will love him and will manifest Myself [make Myself known] to him.” In this verse we find the true core of true Christianity: the actual experience of the presence of God. The experience of the presence of God is a spiritual love affair, an experience which, when superimposed upon any life transforms it in to something wonderful. It is this experience that draws men to the well of scripture where every drop is peace. Here, and only here, do we find faith transformed into awareness. Here, in this scripture, is the sum of it all: knowing Him. “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.”
249. Isaiah 59:2
250. Psalm 5:4
251. First Corinthians 6:9
252. Galatians 5:21
253. John 17:3 “These words spake Jesus…And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent.”
254. Proverbs 4:23 "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
255. John 14:21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him."
256. Matthew 7:1 " “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you."
257. Second Corinthians 6:14
258. Philippians 2:3 “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind [humility] let each esteem other better than themselves.”
259. Matthew 7:12 “Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”
260. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “Charity [the word translated as “charity” in the King James version of the Bible is agape, which is unconditional love] suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth ...”
261. Proverbs 14:1 “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.”
262. Matthew 18:21,22 “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee Until seven times; but Until seventy times seven.”
263. Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”
264. Proverbs 9:8 “…rebuke a wise man and he will love thee.”
265. Ephesians 5:28
266. Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it.”
267. 1 Timothy 5:8 “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”
268. Matthew 7:1 “Judge [criticize] not…”
269. Ephesians 5:23 “For the husband is head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the savior of the body.”
270. Matthew 7:1 “Judge [criticize] not…”
271. First Corinthians 13:5 Love does not “behave itself unseemly.”
272. Revelation 21:8 “…all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” Proverbs 19:9 “…he that speaketh lies shall perish.”
273. First Corinthians 6:8 “Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud…”
274. First Timothy 5:8 “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”
275. First Timothy 5:8 “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”
276. † See the work entitled Endless Love by the author. This work discusses the scriptural nature of relationships and healing of marital discord and expands upon this chapter.
277. Although this word is not used in scripture, it is included in the Greek language used in Biblical times.
278. Agápe is translated “charity” in the King James Version.
279. First John 2:2 "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
280. Romans 5:6 “But God commendeth His love [agápe] toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
281. First John 4:8
282. Philippians 4:7 " And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
283. John 14:21 (NASV)
284. John 14:23
285. John 17:3 (NASV)
286. First John 4:8 "God is love [agape]."
287. John 3:19 " And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."
288. Hebrews 11:6
289. First Corinthians 13:1-8 † Each instance of "love" in First Corinthians is agápe, so First Corinthians describes agápe. It is for this reason that the love described in First Corinthians 13 seems so very out of reach. It is God's love and it can therefore be acquired only with the presence of God.
290. God certainly has other characteristics as well. But the scriptures that describe these other characteristics generally describe how God acts; they tell of what He does or what He is like. For instance, God is just and punishes sin but He also forgives. He is patient and at the same time He is fearsome. But none of these scriptures say that He is any of those things. There is no scripture that says that God is kindness, or that God is mercy. He is kind and merciful, to be sure, but there is not scripture that says that God is kindness or mercy. There are scriptures saying that God is just, but they do not say that God is justice. Or, a scripture may state that vengeance belongs to Him, but there is no scripture that says God is vengeance. First John 4:8 is the only scripture that states that God is something. And it is immensely significant that the one word that scripture uses to describe what God is—is love, agápe. It is here, at agápe, where we find the most fundamental reality of who He really is and it is here that we can relate to Him.
291. First John 4:8
292. First Corinthians 13:8 “Charity [agápe] never fails”
293. Second Peter 1:10
294. Philippians 4:7
295. John 14:23
296. John 14:25-27
297. John 16:33
298. John 17:3
299. First John 4:9
300. John 14:6 “I am…the life”
301. 2 Peter 1: “…by these [promises] you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
302. John 14:23 “Jesus answered and said If a man love Me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”
303. John 14:27
304. Isaiah 57:20
305. First John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”
306. Romans 5: 6,8 “ For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly…God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” First Peter 3:18 “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh [the cross], but quickened [made alive] by the Spirit.”
307. See Psalm 51
308. Revelation 20:14 “Death and hades [hell] were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”
309. Revelation 21:4,5
310. John 16:33
311. Luke 22:31,32 “…behold, Satan hat desired that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not…”
312. Revelation 5:9,10 ““You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God and they will reign on the earth.”
313. Second Corinthians 5:21 " For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
314. First Corinthians 3:10-15
315. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any may be in Christ he is a new creature…”
316. John 10:28 “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.”
317. Romans 5:21 “…as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”
318. Romans 8:28
320. Isaiah 61:1-3
321. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death.”
322. 2 Corinthians 5:21 “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”
323. Romans 5:10 “…we were reconciled to God by the death of His son.”
324. John 4:24 “God is a spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”
326. John 14:23 “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” See FOR THOSE WHO QUESTION
327. John 17:3 “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God... See EXPERIENCING PEACE IN THE MIDST OF ADVERSITY
328. James 2:19 “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”
329. John 17:3 “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God... See EXPERIENCING PEACE IN THE MIDST OF ADVERSITY
330. Romans 8:16
331. Philippians 4:6,7
332. Luke 12:5 “Fear Him, which after He hath killed hath power to cast into hell.”
333. John 8:16 “God is love.” John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
334. 1 John 2:25 “And this is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life.”
335. Hebrews 9:27
336. James 5:20
337. John 11:26
338. Ezekiel 18:4
339. Luke 16:19-31
340. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich (University of Chicago Press), 2d Ed. 1958, p. 563, s.v. άδης “the underworld, the place of the dead.” This word should be distinguished from “hell.” See id. s.v. γέενα “Valley of the sons of Hinnom…the place of punishment…”
341. Revelation 20:4-6 “… I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God…But the rest of the dead lived no again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power…”
342. John 5:29 “And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”
343. Scriptures teaches that the final state of the unredeemed is eternal death (the second death), not eternal torment. Eternal torment is reserved for Satan, the antichrist and the false prophet. See A Scriptural Discussion OF Hell.
344. Romans 7:22, 23
345. Romans 7:24, 25
346. Revelation 21:8 “…[the] unbelieving…shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” Ezekiel 18:4 “Behold, all souls are mine…the soul that sinneth shall die...” Scripture teaches that the soul that sins shall die. Scripture does not teach that the soul that sins shall be tormented eternally. See the author's Fate of Unbelievers.
347. John 5:24 “Verily, verily, I say unto you. He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, that everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; bu is passed from death unto life.”
348. John 4:14 " But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
349. John 4:14
350. John 3:19,21
351. Colossians 2:13
352. Ephesians 2:1
353. Ezekiel 18:20
354. John 14:21
355. John 4:6,7
356. John 14:6
357. John 17:3 “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.”
358. John 3:5,6 "…Except a man be born of water [physical birth] and of the Spirit [spiritual birth] he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
359. John 10:28 (nasv)
360. Ephesians 1:4,5 “According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be hold and without blame before Him in love; Having predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.”
361. Revelation 20:13 “…and they were judged every man according to their works.”
362. See the author's Fate of Unbelievers, which examines all of the scriptures that relate to the doctrinal error called "eternal torment."
363. There are 48 such scriptures all of which are quoted in A Scriptural Discussion of Hell, supra..
364. Scripture teaches that there is one God who exists in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Christ is the Son and is therefore divine, the second person of the Trinity and is therefore God. See John 8:58 (“Before Abraham was, I AM.”)
365. Revelation 5:9.
366. John 1:34 “And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.”
367. John 8:15 “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”
368. John 8:12 “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
369. John 8:58 “Jesus sayeth unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then they took up stones to cast at him…”
370. John 1:3 “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
371. 2 Corinthians. 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who know no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
372. Romans. 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
373. John 3:15, 4:36, 6:54, 17:2,17:3; Acts 13:48,; 1 Timothy. 6:12, 3:7; 1 John 1:2, 2:25, 5:11.
374. Matthew 26:53 “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and He shall presently send twelve legions of angels. But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled…?”
375. John 6:40 “And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise Him up at the last day.”; Romans 6:23 “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
376. Ephesians 2:8 “…it is the gift of God.”
377. Revelation 22:17 “And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”
378. Revelation 5:9. “...for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood...
379. Revelation. 22:17 “...And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
380. Romans 8:38, 39 “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”; John 6:39 “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” † Other scriptures, such as Hebrews 6:4-8, teach that if anyone has tasted the heavenly gift and voluntarily turned away, it is impossible for us to renew him again to repentance. Evangelism is useless for him. However, the person himself can always repent (First John 1:9). But repentance for Christian is unrelated to salvation; it is instead related to knowing God and experiencing God's presence and peace (John 14:21,23). The more the Christian sins, the more he departs from the presence of Christ and the he will "bear thorns and briers" rather than the fruits of righteousness. This person is a back-slider and eventually he will lose all semblance of Christianity and become useless to God's overall purpose which is for us to become branches attached to the vine of Christ and bear the fruits of righteousness. The reference to the burning in Hebrews 6:8 when the back-slider is "nigh unto cursing" does not refer to hell, but instead to the standard procedure in vineyards where dead branches are snapped off and burned.
381. First John 4:8 "…God is love."
382. A statement made by Richard Wurmbrand to the author.
383. First John 5:12
384. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
385. Jeremiah 29:13
386. This is called the “gospel,” or “good news.”
387. Acts 16:31. The words “believe on” mean to “trust in.”
388. John 14:21 “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself [show myself] to him.”
389. John 17:3
390. John 14:21
391. John 14:23
392. John 17:3 “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God... "
393. James 2:19 “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”