Murder in Heaven!

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

There was a time, when heaven was the murder capital of the universe.

A lot of people have the idea, that once we get to heaven God is going to wave some magic wand, or flip some switch in the back of our heads and presto! We won’t sin anymore. After all it will be impossible to sin in heaven, right? Wait a minute. Where did sin begin? in heaven! While it is true that there will be no sin in heaven, we need to carefully examine why. Some say, “Well, we will have different natures. We will be like the angels.” Yet Lucifer was an angel and he sinned in heaven! He even committed murder!

This is what Jesus said when He was talking about Lucifer who became the devil:

You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, John 8:44 NKJV

What did Jesus mean by “he was a murderer from the beginning?” Was Lucifer committing murder in heaven? Yes, he was!

You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. Matthew 5:21-22 NKJV

Murder begins in the heart.

The books of heaven record the sins that would have been committed had there been opportunity. -Ellen White, Signs of the Times, July 31, 1901

Did Lucifer have murder in his heart? Would he have committed murder if he had been given the opportunity? Yes, and Isaiah tells us why.

For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Isaiah 14:13-14 

In many countries, especially in the past, the only way to get the throne was to kill the person already on it. When Lucifer said, I will exalt my throne above God, he wanted to eliminate God and take His place. When Satan led people to crucify Jesus on the cross He was showing the universe the heart of his rebellion which was murder. He was also showing the universe what he wanted to do to God high in heaven had he been given the opportunity.

Murder seems very extreme. We have a hard time believing any of our church friends could do such a thing, but is it really out of the realm of possibility or reality? About a decade ago a serial killer in Kansas was caught after putting fear in his community for decades. Police traced a computer disk to the church where the killer served as president of his congregation. I have heard people “joke” that the only reason they did not kill an ex spouse or mean boss was because they did not want to go to prison. Sometimes we joke about things that are serious to us.  It’s not always the love in our hearts that keep us from murdering. For some it is only the fear of prison that holds them back. I am afraid the reality is, there would be more murders if it were not for prison. Heaven would not be a safe place if the people allowed to live there refrained from murder only because they did not want to go to prison.

Let’s take a deeper look at Lucifer’s murder plot back in heaven. Ezekiel sheds some light on this.

You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created,Till iniquity was found in you. Ezekiel 28:15 NKJV 

Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; Ezekiel 28:17 NKJV

You can define iniquity by having a tendency to do wrong or bending the wrong way. In heaven, somehow Lucifer’s love for God, and later that of many of the angels as well, made a wrong turn and was bent towards himself. He fell in love with his own beauty and began to put himself first, even to the point of wanting to eliminate others who stood in his way of being number one. The longing to be number one leads to murder. Pilate was willing to murder Jesus so he could be number one in popularity. Judas was willing to have people attempt to murder Jesus to force Jesus to defend Himself and His disciples so they, Judas included, could all be the greatest, another word for being number one. We willfully sin, knowing sin put Jesus on the cross, because our “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” turn out to be greater than our love for Jesus. Whenever we put self first, we put God on the cross.

In a sports tournament a team must eliminate every single team in the tournament in order to be number one. Then as if being the number one team is not enough, there is an award for the most valuable player, so at the end one person stands alone as the greatest. In sports it should be all for fun and we should enjoy the friendly competition. Sin is not friendly in its desire for supremacy.

An investigation into the mystery of iniquity leads us to the conclusion that Lucifer became a murderer when he fell in love with himself to the point that meeting his own desires became more important to him than the life of God. When we sin our desires become more important to us than the life of God and we, along with Satan put Jesus on the cross.

In heaven, even the angels who remained loyal to God did not discern that Lucifer’s rebellion would lead to murder. The cross was a real eye opener for the entire universe. The cross exposed Satan’s true colors and revealed the love of God.

That which alone can effectually restrain from sin in this world of darkness, will prevent sin in heaven. The significance of the death of Christ will be seen by saints and angels. Fallen men could not have a home in the paradise of God without the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Shall we not then exalt the cross of Christ? The angels ascribe honor and glory to Christ, for even they are not secure except by looking to the sufferings of the Son of God. It is through the efficacy of the cross that the angels of heaven are guarded from apostasy. Without the cross they would be no more secure against evil than were the angels before the fall of Satan. Angelic perfection failed in heaven. Human perfection failed in Eden, the paradise of bliss. All who wish for security in earth or heaven must look to the Lamb of God. -Ellen White, Signs of the Times, December 30, 1889. 

The cross and not the fear of prison will prevent murder from happening again in heaven, where murder first began. Being given an angelic nature will not prevent sin from reoccurring, since we realize sin began with an angelic nature. A magic wand or switch in the back of the head will not prevent sin in heaven. Only the cross will prevent sin from ever occurring again. The cross will keep us safe from murder, sin and apostasy as we continue studying the cross for eternity.

The victory over sin and apostasy begins as we study the cross here on earth.

Hell In Light of The Cross-With New Living Translation

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You may download a printable copy of In Light of The Cross Bible Study Guides -NLT here.

The Punishment of the Wicked

 

Brief overview: The wicked will be destroyed by fire. The punishment will be everlasting but the punishing will not. The wicked will die instead of being tormented for all eternity. See John 3:16Romans 6:23Obadiah 1:16Matthew 10:28Ezekiel 18:420.

 

Why it is important to know the truth about the punishment of the wicked:

I have a friend who is involved in a prison ministry that visits a juvenile detention center. My friend was telling me that they had recently shared thetruth about hell with the young men there. My friend said the Chaplin at the jail got very upset with him for letting the young men know that the punishment of the wicked is not an eternity spent in hell but rather death just like the Bible says in John 3:16 and Romans 6:23. The reason the Chaplin did not want them to know the truth about the punishment of the wicked was because he wanted the fear of being tormented for all eternity to motivate them to behave.

The teaching of people being tortured throughout all eternity is the most satanic false doctrine of all! It totally misrepresents the love and character of God making it impossible to love and know Him the way He loves and knows us.

Why it is important to understand the punishment of the wicked in the light of the cross:

Many churches use hell and fear as a motivation for doing good because they do not properly understand the love motivation. They do not understand the depths of Christ’s sacrifice in dying the second death. They make the Cross out to be a mere pain endurance marathon instead of seeing a Savior who was actually willing to say goodbye to life forever in order to save the world. When the early church saw the depths of Jesus’ love and sacrifice it turned the whole world upside down! Meaning it changed everything! It was God’s love that constrained, empowered and motivated them. This love is the only motivation that will actually succeed. Galatians 5:6 talks of a faith that works by love, not a fear of punishment. In John 14 Jesus says, “If you love Me keep My commandments”, not if you don’t want to go to hell you better keep my commandments. We must uplift the cross and the truth about the cross like never before. Young men in juvenile centers and people everywhere else need to know that there is a God who did way more than suffer for six hours on a cross. He faced the second death for them. He loved them more than He loved his own life. He loved them so much that when tempted to come down from the cross and go back to heaven He chose to die instead. Simply put, Jesus stayed on that cross for the young men in the juvenile detention center because the thought of heaven without them was hell to Jesus! When the love motivation receives its due power it will accomplish so much more than the fear motivation invented by men. Some people quote John 3:16 all the time while preaching of an eternal torment of sinners while that verse clearly says those who do not believe will “perish” instead of being tortured throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity.

Further study on the punishment of the wicked

 

What is the opposite of eternal life?

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NLT

Note: Those who don’t believe perish. They are not tortured for all eternity. God did not kick Eve out of paradise just because she took a piece of fruit she was told not to. The serpent told lies about God’s love and interest in Eve’s welfare, that Eve and all mankind bought into. When Eve stopped believing in God’s love she stopped believing in her only Source of life. At the cross Jesus died for our sin of unbelief, and when we believe again in His love, we gain back the life we lost when we stopped believing in His love. This is the message of john 3:16.

What is the wages of sin?

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23 NLT

Note that the wages of sin is not eternal torment in hell.

What becomes of the soul or person that sins?

For all people are mine to judge—both parents and children alike. And this is my rule: The person who sins is the one who will die. Ezekiel 18:4 NLT

Note: KJV says soul, NLT says person. Both the KJV and NLT make it clear that the entire soul or person dies in hell and will not be tormented throughout eternity.

How long does the devil have?

Therefore, rejoice, O heavens!
And you who live in the heavens, rejoice!
But terror will come on the earth and the sea,
for the devil has come down to you in great anger,
knowing that he has little time.” Revelation 12:12 NLT

Note: The devil does not have eternity in hell or anywhere else. He has but a little time left to exist.

What will happen to the devil or Satan?

You defiled your sanctuaries with your many sins and your dishonest trade. So I brought fire out from within you, and it consumed you. I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. All who knew you are appalled at your fate .You have come to a terrible end, and you will exist no more.” Ezekiel 28:18-19 NLT

Note: Satan, like all sinners, will be annihilated and exist no more.

What happens to both body and soul in hell?

“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28 NLT

Note: Neither soul nor body are tortured throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. Both are destroyed.

What is the final end of the wicked?

The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, “The day of judgment is coming, burning like a furnace. On that day the arrogant and the wicked will be burned up like straw. They will be consumed—roots, branches, and all. But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. On the day when I act, you will tread upon the wicked as if they were dust under your feet,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Malachi 4:1-3 NLT

Note: There will be nothing left of the wicked – nothing but ashes.

 What does the lake of fire stand for?

Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. Revelation 20:14 NLT

What is God’s promise?

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”Revelation 21:3- 4 NLT

Note: Sinners cannot be eternally tormented in light of the promise that there will be no more pain. The promise is unconditional.

Can we trust that promise?

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”  Revelation 21:5 NLT

Glimpses of Grace; Easy To Be Saved; Hard To Be Lost

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:” Matthew 25:41 

Have you ever worried about your salvation? Does it sometimes seam hard to get to heaven? I have good news for you! Jesus is planning on you being saved and going to heaven with Him! In the verse above Jesus says hell is prepared for the devil and his angels and that does not include you! While hell is being prepared for the devil and his angels look what Jesus has prepared for you, “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: Matthew 25:34 

That is good news that Jesus is preparing a place for us in heaven and not in hell! He is planning and expecting us to be in heaven with Him! Still some Bible verses at first glance make salvation seam hard to obtain. For example Matthew 7:14 says, “strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”   

Don’t get discouraged! Here is some good news from the Mount of Blessing, pages 139 & 140: “Yet do not therefore conclude that the upward path is the hard and the downward road the easy way. All along the road that leads to death there are pains and penalties, there are sorrows and disappointments, there are warnings not to go on. God’s love has made it hard for the headless and headstrong to destroy themselves. If we take Christ for our guide, He will lead us safely. The veriest sinner need not miss his way. Not one trembling seeker need fail of walking in pure and holy light. Though the path is so narrow, so holy that sin cannot be tolerated therein, yet access has been secured for all, and not one doubting, trembling soul need say, “God cares nought for me.”….. with Christ as our guide we shall not fail of reaching the desired haven at last. Christ Himself has trodden the rough way before us and has smoothed the path for our feet.” 

So is it hard to be saved or is it hard to be lost? The God who wants us saved is much stronger than the devil who wants us lost! Go ahead and plan on being saved in heaven with Jesus, He is expecting you to be there! 

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if [it were] not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, [there] ye may be also.” John 14:1-3  

John 7; It’s a Conspiracy!

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

John 7:19 Did not Moses give you the law, and [yet] none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me? 

 7:20       The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee? 

Either the group talking to Jesus here, were ignorant of the conspiracy to kill Him or they were two-faced. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5 that we are not to be paranoid about conspiracies, but to cast all of our care upon Jesus. At the same time, Peter acknowledges that the devil is out to get us.

1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 

 5:8         Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 

 5:9         Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. 

In John 7 the multitude had mixed opinions about Jesus. However His conduct is what validated His words and works.

While people are telling Jesus that He is crazy for thinking someone wants to kill Him, the Pharisees send out a group of conspirators to get Him.

7:45        Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? 

 7:46       The officers answered, Never man spake like this man. 

The officers who were sent to take Jesus reported that never man spake like this man. But the reason of this was that never man lived like this man; for if he had not so lived, he could not so have spoken. His words bore with them a convincing power, because they came from a heart pure and holy, full of love and sympathy, beneficence and truth. There is eloquence beyond that of words, in the quiet, consistent life of a pure, true Christian. We shall have temptations as long as we are in this world, but instead of injuring us, they will only turn to our advantage, if resisted. The bounds are placed where Satan cannot pass. He may prepare the furnace, but instead of working injury, it will only consume the dross, and bring forth the gold of the character, purer than before the trial.  {Gospel Workers 1892 P, 244}

No reason to be paranoid about Satan’s conspiracies. Just keep living for Jesus!

Luke 17; Secret Rapture?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Luke 17:33     Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. 

 17:34  I tell you, in that night there shall be two [men] in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. 

 17:35  Two [women] shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 

 17:36  Two [men] shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 

 17:37  And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body [is], thither will the eagles be gathered together. 

 

Christ’s saying that he who tries to save his life will lose it and he who gives His life will safe it. It is true everywhere. Satan wanted to kill God and anyone else who was more popular than him. He is all about preserving himself, even if it mean killing others. Satan will lose his life. Jesus, who gave His life on the cross will reign forever.

 

Many take verses 35-36 of Luke 17 to teach of a secret rapture where the saved will just disappear and be found in heaven. The Bible does not teach of a secret rapture, and even while some people try here to make a point that people are taken to heaven, Jesus plainly clarifies in verse 37 that they are not taken to heaven. When asked where, he replies “Wheresover the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.” Jesus is talking about scavengers destroying the flesh. That does not sound like heaven to me! Jesus’ explanation in Luke 17 makes His illustration in Matthew 24 even more clear.

 

The Fruit of the Spirit, Lesson 2

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Holding onto a grudge does not protect your rights. It denies your right to forgive and live a happy life.

This morning I was reading this passage in the Bible, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.” Ephesians 4:26-27. Suddenly, a random thought hit me. When we hang onto a grudge and refuse to forgive, we are giving the devil his “right” to have a place in our hearts. It is God’s place to tell us to forgive. It is the devil’s right to tell us we don’t have to forgive. When Christ resurrected Moses, the devil was right there to say Moses could not be forgiven and resurrected. When Christ forgave the paralytic, the devil was right amongst the priests and Pharisees claiming Christ had no right to forgive. 1 John 2:1 tells us Jesus is our advocate. Jesus gives us the right to be forgiven and to forgive. However when we hang onto a grudge, and refuse to forgive, then we have just fired Jesus as our advocate and put the devil, the accuser of the brethren in His place! Not a good move.

Do you really want the accuser of the brethren telling you what your rights are? Consider our high Priest as He hung upon the cross and forgave the repentant thief; “Men may exercise power over His human body. They may pierce the holy temples with the crown of thorns. They may strip from Him His raiment, and quarrel over its division. But they cannot rob Him of His power to forgive sins. In dying He bears testimony to His own divinity and to the glory of the Father. His ear is not heavy that it cannot hear, neither His arm shortened that it cannot save. It is His royal right to save unto the uttermost all who come unto God by Him.” – Desire of Ages, p. 751. It is God’s right to forgive sin and He has also given that right to you! Don’t let the devil take away your rights!

When the devil tells you that the person who has hurt you has taken away your right to happiness, turn the tables on him! Tell him you have the right to forgive them and be happy, instead of taking his poison by holding onto the grudge that he wants to give you, as your supposed “right”.  Instead of  letting the devil give you his fruit, let God give you the fruit of the Spirit which is love. “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32.  Holding onto a grudge is not a right, its a poison. Forgiveness is a divine right! Satan has no place or right in your relationships!

You may find more studies and devotionals on my website In Light Of The Cross.