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

The Ten Commandments In Light Of The Cross Part 6

 

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Thou shalt not kill.  Exodus 20:13

The Hebrew word for “kill” is “ratsach” which more specifically means to murder.  Murder includes malice and self serving motives for killing. This commandment is clearly not forbidding capital punishment as that would conflict with the rest of the Bible. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed. Genesis 9:6

In light of the cross all selfishness leads to murder. In John 8 Jesus says Satan was a murderer from the very beginning. In heaven Lucifer, now Satan, wanted the throne of God. Isaiah 14 The only way you get the throne is to eliminate the person on the throne. Many of the angels did not realize that Lucifer actually had murder on his mind while in heaven, but on the earth, at the cross, he did to God here on earth what he wanted to do to him in heaven-murder Him! The cross is where both Satan’s and God’s characters were manifested. At the cross we see Satan willing to kill anyone who gets in his way of getting what he wants, and we see God who is willing to die and say goodbye to life forever if He can just save someone else.

Self will always try to rise to the top and eliminate whoever gets in its way. This is why Christ took human nature to the cross and crucified self for us all. “God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:3-4

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.  Galatians 2:20

Love is being centered on the welfare of others. Hate, which leads to murder is being centered on self. The only way to overcome putting yourself first is to put others first. The only way to overcome hate is to love.  So “Thou Shalt not kill” could actually be translated, “You will not put yourself first.” At the cross Jesus put others first. At the cross Satan put himself first, and showed the universe why he was a murderer from the very beginning, when he first started putting self first.

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  

Acts 1; God’s Purpose For His Church

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Acts 1:8

The church is God’s appointed agency for the salvation of men. It was organized for service, and its mission is to carry the gospel to the world. From the beginning it has been God’s plan that through His church shall be reflected to the world His fullness and His sufficiency. The members of the church, those whom He has called out of darkness into His marvelous light, are to show forth His glory. The church is the repository of the riches of the grace of Christ; and through the church will eventually be made manifest, even to “the principalities and powers in heavenly places,” the final and full display of the love of God.  Ephesians 3:10.  {AA 9.1} 

The Great Controversy between Christ and Satan is over the character of God. Is God love like He says or is He a cruel tyrant as Satan claims? The former quote reminds me of another quote in Christ Object Lessons, “Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.”  {COL 69.1}  What God is wanting to place in the hearts of His people, is not a cold, formal or legalistic perfection. God is a forgiving God no doubt! He is not perfecting the church so that we can earn our way to heaven. Heaven is a gift. God is not watching our every move, looking for something to check off against us on His list. The character is revealed, not by occasional good deeds and occasional misdeeds, but by the tendency of the habitual words and acts.  {SC 57.2

God is not perfecting His church so they can earn salvation. However He is empowering His church to perfectly represent His love and character to a world starving for love. There is a trial going on. We are not on trial, God is. Satan is accusing God of being a cruel, loveless tyrant. The world is sitting in the jury box, and what God needs from His church is proper representation of His character so that in this trial the jury can make an educated decision about the character of God. God accepts mankind, but mankind will not accept God until it knows for sure that God is indeed the God of love that He says He is. This is where God needs help from His church.

The church is God’s fortress, His city of refuge, which He holds in a revolted world. Any betrayal of the church is treachery to Him who has bought mankind with the blood of His only-begotten Son. From the beginning, faithful souls have constituted the church on earth. In every age the Lord has had His watchmen, who have borne a faithful testimony to the generation in which they lived. These sentinels gave the message of warning; and when they were called to lay off their armor, others took up the work. God brought these witnesses into covenant relation with Himself, uniting the church on earth with the church in heaven. He has sent forth His angels to minister to His church, and the gates of hell have not been able to prevail against His people.  {AA 11.2}

     Through centuries of persecution, conflict, and darkness, God has sustained His church. Not one cloud has fallen upon it that He has not prepared for; not one opposing

force has risen to counterwork His work, that He has not foreseen. All has taken place as He predicted. He has not left His church forsaken, but has traced in prophetic declarations what would occur, and that which His Spirit inspired the prophets to foretell has been brought about. All His purposes will be fulfilled. His law is linked with His throne, and no power of evil can destroy it. Truth is inspired and guarded by God; and it will triumph over all opposition.  {AA 11.3} 

     During ages of spiritual darkness the church of God has been as a city set on a hill. From age to age, through successive generations, the pure doctrines of heaven have been unfolding within its borders. Enfeebled and defective as it may appear, the church is the one object upon which God bestows in a special sense His supreme regard. It is the theater of His grace, in which He delights to reveal His power to transform hearts.  {AA 12.1} 

 

Everyone in whose heart Christ abides, everyone who will show forth His love to the world, is a worker together with God for the blessing of humanity. As he receives from the Saviour grace to impart to others, from his whole being flows forth the tide of spiritual life.

 

The Jewish leaders thought themselves too wise to need instruction, too righteous to need salvation, too highly honored to need the honor that comes from Christ. The Saviour turned from them to entrust to others the privileges they had abused and the work they had slighted. God’s glory must be revealed, His word established. Christ’s kingdom must be set up in the world. The salvation of God must be made known in the cities of the wilderness; and the disciples were called to do the work that the Jewish leaders had failed to do.  {AA 16.1}

AA=Acts of the Apostles, COL=Christ Object Lessons, SC=Steps to Christ.

You may find more studies and devotionals on my personal website In Light of the Cross.

John 17; To Know God..

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

  Said the Saviour: “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” And God declared by the prophet: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.”  {5T 737.1} 
     No man, without divine aid, can attain to this knowledge of God. The apostle says that “the world by wisdom knew not God.” Christ “was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.” Jesus declared to His disciples: “No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.” In that last prayer for His followers, before entering the shadows of Gethsemane, the Saviour lifted His eyes to heaven, and in pity for the ignorance of fallen men He said: “O righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee: but I have known Thee.” “I have manifested Thy name unto the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world.”  {5T 737.2} 
     From the beginning it has been Satan’s studied plan to cause men to forget God, that he might secure them to himself. Hence he has sought to misrepresent the character of God, to lead men to cherish a false conception of Him. The Creator has been presented to their minds as clothed with the attributes of the prince of evil himself,–as arbitrary, severe, and unforgiving,–that He might be feared, shunned, and even hated by men. Satan hoped to so confuse the minds of those whom he had deceived that they would put God out of their knowledge. Then he would obliterate the divine image in man and impress his own likeness upon the soul; he would imbue men with his own spirit and make them captives according to his will.  {5T 738.1} 
     It was by falsifying the character of God and exciting distrust of Him that Satan tempted Eve to transgress. By sin the minds of our first parents were darkened, their natures were degraded, and their conceptions of God were molded by their own narrowness and selfishness. And as men became bolder in sin, the knowledge and the love of God faded from their minds and hearts. “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God,” they “became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”  {5T 738.2} 
     At times Satan’s contest for the control of the human family appeared to be crowned with success. During the ages preceding the first advent of Christ the world seemed almost wholly under the sway of the prince of darkness, and he ruled with a terrible power as though through the sin of our first parents the kingdoms of the world had become his by right. Even the covenant people, whom God had chosen to preserve in the world the knowledge of Himself, had so far departed from Him that they had lost all true conception of His character.  {5T 738.3}
     Christ came to reveal God to the world as a God of love, full of mercy, tenderness, and compassion. The thick darkness with which Satan had endeavored to enshroud the throne of Deity was swept away by the world’s Redeemer, and the Father was again manifest to men as the light of life.  {5T 738.4} 

John 11-12; It Aint Gonna Happen!

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

John 11:1 Now a certain [man] was sick, [named] Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 

 11:2      (It was [that] Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) 

 11:3      Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. 

 11:4      When Jesus heard [that], he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. 

As we continue reading the story of John 11 we find that Lazarus does die. So what did Jesus mean when He said it was not unto death? I think what Jesus meant was, that even though Lazarus will die, he will rise again. It would not end in death. In Isaiah 54:17 the Lord says, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper.” That does not mean that weapons will not put us to death, but that we will still, even in death accomplish great things for the kingdom of God. It also means, that even if we die, we, like Lazarus will rise again. The chief priests were fighting a losing battle against Jesus. Since He raised Lazarus from the dead, in chapter 12 they plotted how they might kill Lazarus too. What good would that do? Jesus would just raise him to life again.

The so-called religious rulers of the day could not destroy Jesus or His followers. They may have put Jesus to death. They may have used the cross of Christ as a weapon against Him, but it did not prosper against Him. Instead it made the Kingdom of God prosper! Of course Jesus was raised to life as well. So was Lazarus. Even Satan can do nothing but cause the kingdom of God to prosper! If you belong to the kingdom of God, then no weapon formed against you can prosper either. Even death cannot prosper against you. If you belong to God, then all of Satan’s threats are for naught. Remember Satan is a liar. Whenever he threatens you, be sure of one thing, it aint gonna happen!