- God is a God of love. (I John 4:16)
Love is His chief and overriding virtue. Love informs all His actions.
But know that God's love is a holy love. He demands holiness and will not allow sin to go unpunished. Motivated by His love, and in fulfillment of His holiness, He, Himself, bore the punishment for all our sin upon the Cross. Thereby, we can share in His righteousness forever apart from any works of our own. (Romans 3:21-26) God loves, but He will never deny His holiness.
- The soul is immortal, living for all eternity.
A God of love would have it no other way. His love for us, demanded that He make us immortal. The Lord said in Matthew 22: 31 - 32 "But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living."
And if we choose to become aware of our God-given immortality, then we can know that our lives far transcend this temporary existence on earth. And we can take courage in the fact that as immortals, it is our destiny - should we accept and embrace our destiny - to grow in love and wisdom, and to attain the status of great and noble beings in Jesus Christ our Lord. (See I Corinthians 15: 47-49)
- One of the highest callings of life is to be that person called 'you.'
You are unique and irreplaceable in all existence. Therefore, you have the right and the duty to respect your humanity. This is not presented as an excuse for pride. For without God, you are nothing. But with God, you have meaning and eternal purpose. If God loves you, then love yourself. And know also that God loves all people. Therefore, you have the duty to respect the inherent humanity of all others. You are not called to respect sinful lifestyles, nor to honor rebellious belief systems. But you must have a heart for other people.
And how do you treat yourself with respect? You do so when you live the godly life. Obedience toward Christ, love, courage, honor, nobility, honesty, loyalty - are the characteristics of life honorably lived. If you lie, cheat, steal, murder, backstab, if you show cowardice, commit adultery, run from duty, if you are cruel and hateful, you treat yourself with disrespect. And worst of all, if you reject God's love and His will, then you cut yourself off from meaning and purpose. There is nothing worse that you can do to yourself than to commit spiritual suicide.
But remember this, as God told the prophet Ezekiel, "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked." (Ezekiel 33:11) Know of a certainty that there is always forgiveness available in Christ when our lives fall short. In fact, we all sin and fall short of God's standards. (Romans 3:23) We cannot achieve righteousness on our own. But we can turn to Christ Who is our "righteousness and sanctification and redemption." (I Corinthians 1:30) And once we know Christ and learn true self-respect, we will desire to live honorably and nobly.
- God uses this life on earth to teach us right from wrong and wise from unwise. And He even punishes us for our refinement.
The writer of Hebrews wrote:
"If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." (Hebrews 12:7-11)
Experience is the best teacher; and this earthly life of challenge and hardship, decision and consequence, victory and failure, and even punishment, provides us with the experiences we need for eternity. If we are in Christ, God Himself will present to us one great panoramic view, in which we will reexperience all the events of our lives. The good we did will survive the fire of God's scrutiny, and we will be rewarded, while the bad we did will be burned. (I Corinthians 3:12-15)
During this Life Review, God will open our eyes, and help us to understand. For regardless of whether we understood everything in this life, we will understand then. We will fully understand why good is good, and bad is bad, and above all else, we will come to understand the importance of love. We will appreciate the good we did here, and learn of the harm we caused when we did wrong. And furthermore, God will teach us all human history. For we will learn from the lives of all who came before, and of all who will come after. In the end, our understanding will be made complete.
Some may object, saying that God could provide us truth without sending us into this world of hardship and pain. He could have made us robots, with a programmed immutable goodness. And there would have been no fall, no sin, no death. But then we would be like those who know the answer, but who do not know the question. Truth, without the understanding borne of experience, has no root. That is why God gave us the freedom to make our choices with all its opportunities and dangers. (See the vignette Butterfly's Wings.)
- For those in Christ, the Judgment is not to be feared.
David said, "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us." (Psalms 103:12) And as the Apostle Paul declared, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus..." (Romans 8:1). We are forgiven in Christ, but we must still come to terms with our life's deeds that we might truly grow as spiritual beings. During the Judgment, we will stand in the presence of the Lord Jesus Who loves us, and through His grace, we will learn the meaning of our life experiences; why things happened as they did. And we will truly come to understand.
But what of those who refuse God's grace? The Apostle Paul said this, "Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil..." (Romans 2:9)
God can forgive all manner of evil. But Jesus did say that there is a point of no return. In Matthew 12 the Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Satan. In v.31, He told them, "Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men."
In John 5:36, Jesus said that the Father's testimony of His mission and purpose was to be found in the works which the Father had given Him to do. One of these works was casting out demons. When the Pharisees not only rejected Jesus, but the power of the Father through the Holy Spirit, they condemned themselves. God could not forgive them if they so hardened their minds and hearts against God so as to call God satan. How could they repent and be saved if they could no longer tell the difference between good and evil, God and satan? They most likely had reached the point of total depravity and had filled their minds with total darkness.
If one rebels to the point that he has totally closed off his heart to God, he is eternally lost. For those who have blasphemed the Holy Spirit, there will be no redemption and no salvation.
The writer of Hebrews wrote:
"For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Hebrews 10:26-31)
The judgment of God against evil must be taken seriously. The two following NDE accounts illustrate the frightening nature of judgment. However, they offer hope:
The first account is the story of Howard Storm.) He found himself on the verge of entering hell, but when he cried out the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, he was rescued from damnation. The second hellish account is contained in an excerpt from the book To Hell and Back by cardiologist Dr. Maurice Rawlings.)
Know this, if life is a school, it is also a test. David prayed to the Lord, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalms 139:23-4)
The prophet Isaiah recorded God's words in chapter 48 and verses 10-11 of his prophecy, "Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it..."
Not everyone will pass the test. Those who refuse God and cling to evil will need to be purged in hell. But as Paul said in Romans 10:9, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."
- We were created to be beings who are an integration of the physical and spiritual.
We are unlike the angels who are "ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation" (Hebrews 1:14) for we have bodies. We are unlike animals who lack a soul created in the image of God. God created us to be immortal souls existing inside physical bodies. At death, our souls go to be with God. As Paul said, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8). The Apostle John received verification of Paul's saying when he saw a vision of Christian souls in Heaven with Christ. (Revelation 6:9) In the immediate afterlife, we exist in Heaven as disembodied spirits. But that is not our destiny. Hence, the resurrection.
The Apostle Paul wrote:
"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." (1 Cor. 15:50-54)
At the Second Coming of Christ we will be raised, for it is our destiny to have physical bodies throughout all eternity. But these bodies will not be subject to sickness and death as our present bodies. For they will be glorified bodies as the body possessed by Jesus after His Resurrection. God the Father and God the Holy Spirit do not have bodies. But God the Son has taken on a body for all eternity. And we will exist side by side with Him forever.
- God is sovereign.
The blame for mankind's condition cannot ultimately be placed on two individuals eating from a tree in the Garden of Eden. The Infinite God takes responsibility for His creation and He cannot be thwarted by finite man. His plans for humanity are on schedule.
For instance, compare Judges 2:1-4 with Judges 3:1-4. In Judges 2, God pronounces punishment on Israel. The Israelites had disobeyed God's command to drive out all the idolatrous Canaanites from the Land of Promise. Therefore, the original inhabitants would remain as a thorn in Israel's side, and Canaanite idols would be a snare. However, Judges 3:4 states that the Canaanites were left in the land "to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of the LORD, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses." In the second account, the lingering Canaanite presence is not simply due to Israel's failure, but instead is a result of God's plan. Here is the point: Man has free will (within certain limits - the influence of his genes, culture, personal circumstances). Man's actions have consequences. But God in His sovereignty oversees human events, and takes final responsibility for His creation.
- God is the Infinite.
He infinitely transcends time and space. All that is; past, present and future, exist simultaneously within His infinite mind as one eternal, unchanging thought. Therefore, time is nothing but an illusion, and no finite thing exists in and of itself. Everything is the thought of God. Thus, if God did not think, there would be absolute nothingness. Space, time, energy, matter and consciousness would not be.
One may ask, "How can there be an Infinite existing beyond time and space?" The answer is that the Infinite must exist regardless of whether we understand how. This is so because of the impossibility of an infinite regression of time. Think of it this way; if time truly existed and flowed like a river, could it flow out of an infinite past? If it could, imagine traveling backward through time. You would travel forever without ever reaching the beginning. But if you could not reach the beginning, then time, traveling forward, could not have reached the present. Therefore, an infinite regression is impossible, and time had to have a beginning. But, yet, this too is impossible. For the act of beginning requires prior movement; a cause, a push, an act of design, and such movement requires time. But a thing cannot precede itself. This creates a paradox. If time is real, it had to have a beginning. Yet, a beginning of time is impossible.
So what can we conclude? The truth is this: time is not real. Only the Infinite is real. For the Infinite exists beyond time, having no past, and no future. Its existence is immeasurable and unfathomable by the finite mind. It neither looks forward, nor back. There is only the eternal present. But, then, what is that which we call time, with its ebb and flow? Time can be described as thus: Within the Infinite lies an endless number of motionless points, like a series of picture frames, with each frame containing the whole of existence at any point in "time". These "picture frames" exist eternally and simultaneously without change or movement. Yet, the Infinite has organized these picture frames of the universe in an orderly manner into past, present and future to give us a sense of meaning. It is this orderly arrangement of the frames which appears to us as time.
These "picture frames" do not and cannot exist in and of themselves. They are like the infinite number of points contained in any line. Add all these infinite points together, and they do not equal one mile, one inch, or even a quarter of an inch. They equal nothing. They are hypothetical and have no existence outside the mind. And so the picture frames of time are without duration as the infinite points in a line are without distance. Added together, the picture frames do not equal time. They equal nothing. They exist only in the mind of the Infinite. And, thus, all that is timebound; space, matter, energy, and man, himself, exist within the mind of God in the eternal present. What we call the past, still exists. And what we call the future, now is. Everything is dependent for its existence on the one, true, Thing; the Infinite.
Yet, this Infinite is no mere "thing". Because creation represents Its thought, and Its creation is based on design, It has supreme intelligence. Having intelligence, It has personality. And having personality, the Infinite is a Person.
The Apostle Paul spoke of the power of the Infinite God when he told the Athenians:
"And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being..." (Acts 17:26-28)
- We are finite, destined to live forever in time and space.
But our finite selfhood, our own unique individuality, is God's greatest gift. And time and space, though they be illusions, were given to provide us a sense of order, in which to cherish our selfhood. Therefore, we are not to dream of eternal union with the Infinite, and self-obliteration as called for by Eastern religion. The finite can never become infinite, nor can the part ever become the whole. Instead, we are to seek communion with God, as individual to individual, with the One Who projects His love, light and personality into finite creation. In other words, enjoy your life and your selfhood as you walk with God.
Yet, still, some will find it disconcerting that in our finitude, we do not exist in and of ourselves. How small is man that he is merely a thought within the mind of the Infinite. He cannot exist apart from God, and stand as an independent soul. Nor will he ever become one with Infinity, and join with the overarching Reality, Which is the Source of all that is. Each man is and always will be a finite pinpoint in God's mind. Yet, our dependence on God makes us more real than we could be in a universe of ebb and flow. For we are immutable as the timeless, unchanging thought of God is immutable. We are not the result of a chance meeting of our parents, or accidents of history. For ultimately, there are no accidents. We exist, each and everyone of us, because God wants us to exist. It could be no other way for the thought of the Infinite does not change. And let us remember that the Infinite, Who is a God of love, forever loves those Whom He has made. So let us always rejoice in our individuality, and feel the divine love which God has bestowed upon each of us.
But if creation is immutable, are we in any sense real? Are we simply puppets? And the answer is this: God truly is a Creator. If the monism of Hinduism were true in which there is no difference between God and His creation, then God would be nothing more than an idle daydreamer. For God has truly breathed life into His creation. He has given us free agency. He holds us accountable for our decisions. We are real because He is real. And accept this, God's act of creation is beyond the ability of our intellect to fathom. This discussion of the Infinite versus the finite is only a human-derived model to partially grasp reality. The whole of reality infinitely exceeds the human mind. For at the point at which intellect fails, faith in God must become our standard. It is our duty to look to God and simply believe.
- The Infinite God is also an immanent God. For He eternally projects His divine Spirit into finite creation.
God moves through time as a divine Holy Spirit. He is forever with us, walking beside us, reaching out to us, offering to hold our hands to give us strength, comfort and resolve.
And not only does He exist beside us as an invisible Spirit, He, too, took on humanity and shared in the journey of life. He lived in poverty and worked with His hands as a carpenter. He taught us how to experience the Kingdom of God in the here and now. He healed the sick and gave hope to the poor. He humbled the rich and taught us that we must die to self-centeredness. He showed us how to rise above the harshest circumstances and live lives of nobility. He bore our burdens on a tree. He died. And three days later, He rose again.
- Jesus Christ died to bring God and man, and also man and man, together.
By enduring the punishment for all men's sins, Jesus gained the moral authority to forgive. If I sin against my brother, and my brother refuses to forgive me, Jesus can still grant forgiveness and make me clean. Jesus paid for my sins against my brother. That gives Him the right to forgive, and to overrule my unforgiving brother.
But by bearing on the Cross all the pain of every human being, by enduring temptation and refusing to sin, Jesus Christ gained the moral authority to hold us accountable. He is a God of forgiveness. He wishes to cleanse us and make us whole, but He requires that we repent of sin and turn to Him. If we refuse to turn away from sin, He has the right to judge, and this He will do.
- Communion with the Infinite through His divine Holy Spirit, and faith in the God-man Jesus Christ, gives us the inner strength to face life bravely and to retain composure in the face of all adversity.
Divine communion can be achieved in many ways; a) through prayer in which one pours out his heart to God, b) through passive meditation in which one stills the mind and body to allow the thoughts of God to enter the soul, c) through active meditation in which one thinks on the Divine, d) through repentance in which one receives cleansing and regeneration, and e) through actions in which one lives the principled life.
- The Infinite God created good and also takes responsibility for calamity. (See Deut. 32:39; I Samuel 2:6-7; Ecclesiastes 7:14; Isaiah 45:7)
His way is the way of goodness. But He allowed evil for us to fight and overcome so that we might be tested and so that we might learn. As has been previously stressed, God uses this life on earth to teach us right from wrong and wise from unwise.
In the first chapter of Deuteronomy, Moses recounts that the Israelites of the Wilderness years demanded that he send spies into Canaan to search out the terrain. In the book of Numbers, chapters 13 and 14, we see that God took up Israel's demand. But in commanding Moses to send the 12 spies into the Land of Promise, God put Israel to the test. For of the 12 spies, God knew that ten would return saying "we cannot take the land because the Canaanites are too strong." Upon hearing the report, the Israelites would have to decide whether to trust God or to fall victim to their fears. And Israel failed the test by choosing not to believe the promises of God Who had already showed them His power and grace. Therefore, God did not allow those age 20 and over with the exception of Joshua and Caleb to enter the Promised Land.
At the end of the years of wandering, Moses said to Israel, "And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no." (Deuteronomy 8:2)
God not only tested Israel, He even tested the angels of Heaven. And Lucifer, who became Satan, failed the test. The Apostle Peter wrote:
"For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:" (2 Peter 2:4-9)
So we too are tested. If we do not choose the way of God in Jesus Christ His Son, we will fail and will not enter Heaven. But those who choose Christ amidst all the evil in this world, will receive the righteousness of Christ. And, we who are in Christ, will learn the lessons of life we were meant to learn. We will learn to appreciate the Good in a way we never would have apart from living in this world of evil and pain.
And if God is ultimately responsible for all that is, if He has allowed evil to exist so that we might be tested, and if He has elected some to life and some to death, then is He wrong to hold us accountable? The Apostle Paul said:
"Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory," (Romans 9:19-23).
Note: God's election works hand in hand with the free will of man. Even though God is Infinite, He has the ability to create true beings with will and choice. And because He is Infinite, He foreknew our choices. Based on His foreknowledge, He elected (or chose) whom He would save and whom He would not. God is sovereign meaning that He sets the rules and makes all the final decisions. And in His absolute sovereignty, He granted us the intellectual ability to make free choices. He also holds us accountable for our choices.
- All human life is holy and reverend.
Therefore, all forms of abortion, euthanasia, murder and suicide are totally, absolutely, and inalterably wrong. One must live life through to the very end, no matter how difficult it becomes. For we are here on a mission to live and to learn, and even the last days of disease and pain are an opportunity to grow. This life on earth is a precious gift. Let us never abandon our post. Likewise, we must respect the right to life of all other human beings, born or unborn. We must especially revere the life of a child in the womb, who has its whole life waiting ahead. For there is nothing worse than taking the life of a child. If we know Christ, we will also oppose war for empire with its needless murder and destruction. No true Christian would ever support the bush/obama/antichrist wars in the Middle East. Therefore, let us stand for life, even when we must sacrifice to do so. For as immortal souls, we are to choose principle over convenience, nobility over dishonor, and courage over cowardice.
- God's greatest commandments are to love Him (Deuteronomy 6:5), to love one another (Leviticus 19:18), and to use the experiences of this life to grow in the wisdom of Christ. (2 Peter 3:18 - But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.)
For God has chosen us to be spiritually mature and powerful beings, who knowingly choose the good which is found only in the God of love. And that God of love is Jesus Christ our Lord.