THIS EASTER WHEN THE BLESSED JESUS DIED, GOD WAS CLEARLY JUSTIFIED ! – ARE YOU JUSTIFIED ?

April 18, 2011

    “And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”

Romans 5:16-18 KJV

Justification, in the Biblical sense, means being declared “Right” in God‘s sight. When I am justified before God it is just as if I’d never sinned.  Justification is the process of being made just.  Someone who is justified has been made Just.  Someone who is just is without blame.  A comprehensive study of scripture relating to justification reveals what it is and how mankind is justified in the sight of God. All the doctrines of the Bible are important, but none is more vital to the peace and rest of the child of God than the Bible truth of Justification. The believer does not ascend to the peak of Christian joy until he appreciates and appropriates this aspect of the grace of God. Forgiveness is wonderful; pardon is wonderful; cleansing is wonderful; but Justification is more wonderful. In Paul’s day, and later in the days of the Protestant Reformation, and in our own day, it would be difficult to find a truth more cardinal to our historic Christian faith than the doctrine of Justification. The question of man’s justification before God was raised early in man’s history. In the Book of Job we read, “I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God? How then can man be justified with God?” Job 9:2, 25:4 KJV  In the New Testament the Apostle Paul, developed it more fully. He said, “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” Acts 13:38-39 KJV  Paul says that forgiveness and justification are made possible through Jesus Christ, but he makes it clear that the two are not identical. If a criminal is found guilty and convicted of crime, he may be forgiven by the offended party and even pardoned by the governor, but he remains guilty of his offense. His guilt was established and the court records carry it as such. He has been forgiven but not justified. The Apostle is saying that God does two things for the guilty but believing sinner that no man can possibly do for another; that is, He both forgives and justifies. Justification is more than forgiveness. We can forgive another for his wrong, but never can we justify him. Forgiveness assumes guilt; therefore, the guilty one cannot be justified. On the other hand, if we justify a man, then he needs no forgiveness, because justification assumes no guilt. But since all men are both guilty and condemned sinners before God, all need both forgiveness and justification before entering the Kingdom of God. Justification can be defined as that act of God whereby He declares absolutely righteous any and all who take shelter in the blood of Christ as their only hope for salvation. Justification is a legal term which changes the believing sinner’s standing before God, declaring him acquitted and accepted by God, with the guilt and penalty of his sins put away forever. Justification is the sentence of the Judge in favor of the condemned man, clearing him of all blame and freeing him of every charge. Justification does not make the sinner righteous, but when God sees him “in Christ,” He declares that he is righteous, thereby pronouncing the verdict of “not guilty.” In modern jurisprudence a sentence in any court must be in keeping with the facts presented. A judge has no right to condemn the innocent or to clear the guilty. Only God can clear the guilty. We must keep in mind the fact that there is a close connection between the act of justifying and the imputed righteousness of the one who has been justified. A just person is one who has been declared righteous by God. God is the Author of Justification. The Bible says, “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” Romans 8:33 KJV  What is the function of justification?  First, we know that sinners are justified by God. God Himself is the Justifier. Only God can justify a man; no man can justify another man. The source of justification must be in the one holy and righteous God. The Bible states, “If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked.” Deuteronomy 25:1 KJV  If a man is not guilty of a charge made against him, he should be justified. All men are sinners, and since all sin is against God, He only must be satisfied. The Bible says, “To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Romans 3:26 KJV  Second, we are justified by grace. The Bible says, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” Romans 3:24 KJV  Look carefully at the text and notice that word “freely.” The Greek word (dorean) translated “freely” means “without a cause. There was no cause in the words and works of Jesus for which men should hate Him, yet He was hated “freely,” “without a cause.” Just as there was no cause that men should hate our Lord, so there was no cause that God should justify man; but He justifies him “freely,” without a cause. Jesus came with a heart full of love for mankind, but they hated Him. You cannot buy it with money, for it is “freely by His grace.”  Third, we are justified by blood. The provision for righteousness is solely through the blood of Christ. The Bible says, “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” Romans 5:9 KJV  These next verses are of tremendous importance because they show the only ground of justification. It says, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Romans 3:24-26 KJV  God can make bad men good only through the death of His Son, for we are justified by His Blood. Fourth, we are justified by faith. “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”   The Bible says, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Romans 3:28, 4:5 KJV  This is the God-ward aspect of justification, but like all the blessings of salvation, the sinner cannot receive it until he accepts it, and this he does when he acknowledges his guilt and puts personal faith in what God has done for him in Christ. Fifth, we are justified  by the spirit. The Bible says, “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11 KJV  The believing sinner’s righteousness is the plan of God the Father, the provision of God the Son, and by the power of God the Holy Spirit. When a man says he has been justified by God, his fellowmen have a right to expect him to prove his faith by his good works. The Bible says, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” James 2:24 KJV  God’s standard of holiness is man’s that things which are approved of men may be counted as evil in the sight of God. Let us make certain that by faith we are justified before God. Self-effort, religious ritual, or agonizing prayer cannot take away sin. But when we trust in Christ for salvation, we are justified, declared righteous by God. Then, as we lose our burden of guilt and experience total justification, we will have real peace. Grace is receiving what we do not deserve. Mercy is not receiving what we do deserve. We deserve to go to hell, but by His mercy we shall never go there. We do not deserve to go to heaven, but by grace we’ll spend eternity there. Grace justifies. Mercy pardons. Grace admits us to heaven. Mercy saves us from hell. The death of Christ was enough to pardon us in mercy, but it took the resurrection to effect our justification. So don’t wait any longer to put your trust and faith in Jesus Christ. May we all be justified in the blood of the lamb of God. Open up your heart and let Jesus in, for He is the One that died on the cross, shed His blood and paid the penalty for your sins, so you could have that free gift of eternal life. Amen

By: Jeff Ellinger



EASTER FLASH MOB ! – 2,000 CHRISTIANS ! – DANCE YOUR SHOES OFF !

April 15, 2011

ABOUT THIS VIDEO

More than 2,000 people from Second Baptist Church, Houston, Texas, gathered at Discovery Green in the heart of Houston to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. The purpose of Dance Your Shoes Off! was to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus Christ in a powerful and celebratory way. Most importantly, each participant left a new pair of shoes on the field for those in need. These shoes will be given to local mission agencies, including Star of Hope, individuals all across the world through our mission partners and mission trips. CREDITS: The song was commissioned by Second Baptist Church for this event. It is called “Rise Up” sung by Lauren James Camey and produced by Joshua Moore. Visit http://www.second.org for worship times and locations.


GOD’S PROMISE OF LOVE, YOU ARE A NEW CREATION

April 15, 2011

ABOUT THIS VIDEO

This video is a powerful look at the lies that Satan tries to deceive us with and the amazing promise of God’s love, forgiveness, and His desire to make us into a new creation. It combines powerful music, images, and quotes from scripture that will encourage you.


“DOUBTING EASTER” – DO YOU BELIEVE ?

April 14, 2011

ABOUT THIS VIDEO

In the midst of the joy of Easter, it can be difficult to acknowledge doubt. But the redemptive story of Thomas declares that doubt has long been a part of Easter. Buy now: http://www.ignitermedia.com/mini-movies/1922/Doubting-Easter


THIS EASTER, LET US REFLECT ON JESUS’ CRUCIFIXION – FORGIVENESS OF OTHERS

April 14, 2011

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.”

John 3:16 KJV

The word crucifixion comes from the latin “crucifixio,” or “crucifixus,” meaning “fixed to a cross.” Crucifixion was an ancient method of execution in which the victim’s hands and feet were bound and nailed to a cross. It was one of the most horribly painful and disgraceful methods of capitol punishment. Crucifixion was not only one of the most disgraceful forms of death, it was one of the most dreaded methods of execution in the ancient world. This type of capitol punishment was primarily reserved for traitors, captive armies, slaves and the worst of criminals. The Roman form of crucifixion was not employed in the Old Testament by the Jewish people, as they saw crucifixion as one of the most horrible, cursed forms of death. The Bible says, “His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day;  (  for he that is hanged is accursed of God; ) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.” Deuteronomy 21:23 KJV  In New Testament Bible times, the Romans used this tortuous method of execution as a means of exerting authority and control over the population. Before nailing the victim to the cross, a mixture of vinegar, gall, and myrrh was usually offered to reduce some of the victim’s suffering. Wooden planks were usually fastened to the vertical stake as a footrest or seat, allowing the victim to rest his weight and lift himself for a breath, thus prolonging suffering and delaying death for up to three days. Unsupported, the victim would hang entirely from nail-pierced wrists, severely restricting breathing and circulation. This excruciating ordeal would lead to exhaustion, suffocation, brain death and heart failure. At times, mercy was shown by breaking the victim’s legs, causing death to come quickly. As a deterrent to crime, crucifixions were carried out in highly public places with the criminal charges posted on the cross above the victim’s head. Jesus’ final hours on the cross lasted from about 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., a period of about six hours. This timeline takes a detailed, hour-by-hour look at the events as recorded in Scripture, including the events just before and immediately after the crucifixion. Why did Jesus have to die? Does Christianity only make sense by God deciding that Jesus had to be crucified? Before answering these questions, it is important to understand that Jesus clearly understood his mission on earth involved laying down his life as a sacrifice. The Bible says, “And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” Mark 8:31 KJV  Though God is all merciful, all-powerful and all forgiving, God is also holy, righteous and just. He was wrongly accused, unjustly tried, tortured, and executed, in spite of being innocent. What was His reaction to this cruelty as he hung dying on the cross? The Bible says, “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34 KJV  Paul, the Bible’s greatest missionary, took up Jesus’ message, preaching a gospel of love. Love and cruelty are incompatible. Paul simplified the intent of all God’s commands as it says in the Bible, “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.Galatians 5:14 KJV  It is not uncommon for Christians to have questions about forgiveness. Forgiveness does not come easy for most of us. Our instinct is to recoil in self-protection when we’ve been injured. We don’t naturally overflow with mercy, grace and forgiveness when we’ve been wronged. I believe forgiveness is a choice we make through a decision of our will, motivated by obedience to God and his command to forgive. The Bible says, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Colossians 3:13 KJV How do we forgive when we don’t feel like it? We forgive by faith out of obedience. Since forgiveness goes against our nature, we must forgive by faith, whether we feel like it or not. We must trust God to do the work in us that needs to be done so that the forgiveness will be complete. I believe God honors our commitment to obey Him and our desire to please him when we choose to forgive.  The Bible says, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” Philippians 1:6 KJV  We will know the work of forgiveness is complete when we experience the freedom that comes as a result. We are the ones who suffer most when we choose not to forgive. When we do forgive, the Lord sets our hearts free from the anger, bitterness, resentment and hurt that previously imprisoned us. Most times, however, forgiveness is a slow process. It says in the Bible, “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.” Matthew 18:21-22 KJV  This answer by Jesus makes it clear that forgiveness is not easy for us. It’s not a one-time choice and then we automatically live in a state of forgiveness. Forgiveness may need a lifetime of forgiving, but it is important to the Lord. We must continue forgiving until the matter is settled in our heart. I have found that prayer is one of the best ways to break down the wall of unforgiveness in my heart. When I begin to pray for the person who has wronged me, God gives me new eyes to see and a new heart to care for that person. We can pray for God to deal with the injustices, for God to judge the person’s life, and then we can leave that prayer at the altar. We no longer have to carry the anger. Although it is normal for us to feel anger toward sin and injustice, it is not our job to judge the other person in their sin. The Bible says. “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:” Luke 6:37 KJV  The best reason to forgive is because Jesus commanded us to forgive. We learn from Scripture, if we don’t forgive, neither will we be forgiven as it says in the Bible, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15 KJV  When we forgive out of obedience to the Lord, it is a choice, a decision we make. However, as we do this forgiving, we discover the command is in place for our own good, and we receive the reward of our forgiveness, freedom. Realizing that we are sinners and placing our trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection assures us that we can immediately know where we will spend our eternal tomorrows. So don’t wait another day ! Open up your heart to Jesus Christ, because He is the One that died on the cross and shed His blood to pay for your sins so you could have that free gift of eternal life. Amen

By: Jeff Ellinger

 


PALM SUNDAY – GOD’S WAY !!!

April 13, 2011

ABOUT THIS VIDEO

Fast food restaurants tell us that we should have it our way. But, at the heart of the Christian faith is a willingness to surrender our will and say, Thy will be done. This video, about Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem, will remind your congregation that Gods will is always what is best for us (even when its difficult). 

The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the King of Israel!”- John 12:12-13



WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY AS WE APPROACH EASTER AND JESUS’ RESURRECTION-WHERE DO WE GO WHEN WE DIE ?

April 13, 2011

“And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

Luke 23:43 KJV

As we get closer to Easter and think about Jesus being crucified on the cross and three days later raising up from the dead, we often wonder if when we die do we go straight to heaven if we are saved. As I did some research, there was a lot of different opinions on this subject. This is my opinion and what I was taught in church and read in the Bible. When you die you will be judged by God like everybody else. The Bible says, ” And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” Hebrews 9:27 KJV  So what really happens when you die ? There are so many articles on this subject it would take me days to look through, so I found one that I am going to copy for you to read that I think explains it very well. It is from The Brethren Revival Fellowship website. I copied it from here and hope you enjoy and understand.


What Happens

Immediately

After Death?


On Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, thousands of people died-wives and husbands, fathers and mothers, married and single persons-most thrust quickly into eternity–primarily because of a terrorist jihad aimed at the destruction of Israel and those who support that nation. The violent attacks caught the world by surprise. We pray that the shock and fear and inconvenience caused by the dastardly deed will bring many to repentance and salvation, and that all of us will reflect on our lives, making new commitments of devotion to Jesus Christ.

On Thursday morning, August 9, 2001 our youngest daughter, Berdene Walmer was promoted to glory. She was diagnosed with a rare type of chordoma brain tumor already in April, 1993. Her sight and speech and hearing and swallowing had all been affected by the tumor growth. Berdene’s husband, Tom Walmer, arranged for the best care that the medical profession was able to give. But after seven major surgeries (some radical, all in the nose, throat, neck, and head area)-and three series of radiation the tumor again was aggressive in its growth, and pressed on those areas of the brain that control the breathing mechanism and the body temperature. Berdene was in a coma for six days before she went to be with the Lord. Her departure from this life was gentle and peaceful.

Berdene was 24 years old when she sensed that her sight and hearing and speech were becoming more and more impaired. In addition, she was having severe pain in the neck and head area, and was finding it more and more difficult to swallow food. Early in 1993 an MRI revealed the presence of a very large and rare kind of brain tumor, called a “chordoma” tumor. That diagnosis was followed by the surgeries and the radiation treatments.

The chief neurologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital (along with a team of medical helpers) performed the first two surgeries-first sawing the roof of her mouth to remove a portion of the tumor, and then sawing her jawbone in half and splitting her tongue to remove another major section of the tumor. Later, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, another surgery involved cutting around her nose and slicing her face down over the upper lip, to get behind the eye to remove the tumor which had been pushing the eye out of its socket. The proton beam radiation (given at the Harvard University cyclotron) involved delivering two billion hydrogen protons into specific areas of the head every second.

During the eight and one half years of discomfort and suffering, Berdene did remarkably well. Her mind continued to function right up until the day of the coma. She was able to use her limbs to do some of her work. Her attitude was positive. Her husband was faithful and supportive. The most difficult trial was coping with the death of their 22 month old son, who, after Berdene’s second surgery, was killed in an automobile accident.

In spite of all the difficulties, Berdene spent time helping to proofread the BRF Witness articles and several of my books. She attended a number of Annual Conferences and BRF meetings in earlier years. During her illness, much of her time was spent writing notes of encouragement to people who suffered in various ways. During just one month she wrote cards and notes to fifty persons.

But now death has come. At times when God chooses to call a loved one into the eternal world, by way of the valley of death, we are inclined to ask many questions. What happens when a person dies? Where do the dead go immediately after death? What are they doing now? Can those who have died, see us? Are consciousness and memory retained after death? The article in this issue of the BRF Witness is an attempt to do a Bible study on the subject, “What happens immediately after death?”

–Harold S. Martin

What Happens Immediately After Death?

By Harold S. Martin

The Bible is primarily a book about life. It tells us how to experience everlasting life, and also how to enjoy an abundant life here on earth. Even John 3:16 talks about “life.” The writer says, “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.” The Bible is not primarily a book about death, yet it treats the subject of death many times because death is part of the cycle of life in God’s plan

All of us, barring the return of Christ, are going to die. Some will grow old and die; some will die at an earlier age. We fade like flowers and wither like grass (Psalm 103:15). We all experience aging and illness and frailties of some kind. And although we can be thankful for the wonders of modern medicine and for the skills of dedicated doctors-the fact still remains that death will come to all of us. And at death, the body will return to the dust of the earth, and the soul will be carried immediately–either into the presence of Christ (for those who die in Christ), or, it will enter into a place called “Hades” (for those who die in their sins).

Following death, there is an intermediate state-the time between death and the final judgment. And there is also a final state-the eternal destiny which will last forever. In this study, we want to look at the intermediate state-what happens during the interval between death and the final judgment.

1. THE IMMEDIATE ABODE OF THE UNSAVED DEAD

Jesus told about the self-centered ungodly rich man (in Luke 16). The ungodly man died, “and in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments” (Luke 16:23/KJV). The word translated “hell” is “Hades,” a word which in the New Testament is used to describe the place where the unsaved dead go immediately upon death.

The Greek word for “hell” as a final destiny, is a different word. The word “gehenna” was used to describe the Valley of Hinnom, the garbage dump on the south side of Jerusalem. It was the place where wild dogs gnashed their teeth as they fought over the garbage of the dump. Gehenna is the final place of punishment; Hades is the intermediate place of the dead.

Jesus (in Luke 16) says the souls of the wicked go to “Hades” after death, but in Matthew 10:28 Jesus speaks about hell also. There, He says that both soul and body are cast into “gehenna” after the resurrection and final judgment. In Matthew 10 Jesus is talking about final judgment, but in Luke 16 He is talking about what happens immediately after death.

Hades is like a county jail (a temporary prison), until the sentence is determined. The Lake of Fire (gehenna) is like a state penitentiary, a permanent place of punishment.

While “Hades” is not the final destiny of the wicked, it is a place of conscious suffering and of despair place of torment. The man in Luke 16 wanted someone to dip the tip of his finger in water to cool his tongue (Luke 16:24). At another place, the Bible says that “the Lord knows how to … reserve the unjust under punishment for (until) the day of judgment” (2 Peter 2:9). Hades is a temporary prison where the wicked dead are kept under punishment until the day of judgment and the final sentence is named.

The purpose of the Judgment is not so much to determine who is saved and who is lost. The matter of salvation has been determined by our decision regarding Jesus Christ here in this life. For example, John 6:47 says, “He who believes in me has everlasting life.” The word “believes” is a strong word: It means “to embrace,” and “to cling to;” it includes repentance and obedience. Those who sincerely receive Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord of their lives, are assured of eternal life. By way of contrast, those who do not know God, and who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ “shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).

And so the final Judgment is not so much designed to determine who is saved and who is lost, as it is to determine the degree of punishment and the degree of reward. Every human being will some day stand before the judgment bar of God. There will be rewards and there will be appropriate punishment. Exactly when and how God will accomplish all this, is not really important for us to know. But in Revelation 20:1314, the word translated “hell” (KJV) is “Hades.” And so when the text says that “death and Hades” will deliver up the dead who were in them, those in Hades (the temporary prison) will be judged, and then cast into the Lake of Fire. The Lake of Fire will be the eternal destiny of the unsaved.

2. THE IMMEDIATE ABODE OF THOSE WHO DIE IN CHRIST

The Bible teaches that those who are saved, having embraced the blood of Jesus on the cross (11 Peter 1:18-19), will at death go to be with Christ, in a state of conscious bliss–and are immediately in fellowship with Christ.

The Apostle Paul declared that “to be absent from the body” is to be “present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). And later, he says that to die, is “to depart and be with Christ, which is far better’ (Philippians 1:23).

Jesus speaks of the immediate abode of the saved dead, as “Paradise.” He said to the thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). The righteous dead are in the presence of Christ, in a place called Paradise, awaiting the resurrection of the body the judgment, the final reward-and the future life in Heaven.

It might be helpful to explain that before the death and resurrection of Jesus, “Hades” had two regions, one for the righteous and the other for the unrighteous. Not only were the wicked in Hades, but so were the righteous in Old Testament times. In the account of the rich man and Lazarus (in Luke 16), before the death and resurrection of Jesus, there was a “great gulf” (Luke 16:26) between the two regions. But they were close enough to each other that the self-centered rich man could communicate with the patriarch Abraham.

In the later parts of the New Testament, the abode of the saved is described with the word “paradise.” The Apostle Paul was “caught up into Paradise” (2 Corinthians 12:4). Our Lord Jesus says that those who overcome shall “eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7).

The Scriptures indicate that Christ descended into Hades before He went back to the Father, at the time of His crucifixion and resurrection and ascension. Acts 2:27 says that His soul was not left in Hades and that His body did not see corruption. Acts 2:32-33 says that Jesus was raised up and exalted at the right hand of the Father. And Ephesians 4:8-10 says that when Christ “ascended on high, He led captivity captive.” It is the belief of many evangelical Bible teachers that it was at this time that those in the righteous portion of Hades were led into the place called Paradise in New Testament times. Jesus descended into Hades, set the Old Testament saints free, and took them to Paradise to be with Him. And now, when saved persons die, “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).

If the above Scriptures are properly interpreted, then immediately after death, the saved find themselves in Paradise and the lost find themselves in Hades. Exactly what activities will take place during the time between death and judgment (in these temporary abodes) is not revealed in Scripture. The Bible is restrained in what it says about life immediately following death. There are many questions about life after death that go beyond the limits of our understanding. Now we see through a glass darkly, but a marvelous day is coming when those mysteries will be completely unveiled.

We do know two major facts. Unbelievers will be in a state of anguish and torment (Luke 16:2328; 2 Peter 2:9). The saved will be resting from their labors in joyful satisfaction (Revelation 14:13; Acts 7:59; Philippians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 5:8). The spirits of those who die in their sins will be ushered immediately in Hades, and after the Judgment, both body and soul will be delivered into the Lake of Fire. The spirits of those who die in Christ will be ushered immediately into the

Paradise of God, and upon receiving new bodies, eventually will be transported into the final heavenly home, which Jesus says He is preparing for His people (John 14:1-3).

3. SOME KEYS FOR DYING VICTORIOUSLY

Christ achieved victory over death when He arose from the grave, and His followers have the promise of an afterlife in Paradise and eventually in the heavenly Home. However, death is still associated with sadness even for the Christian, because of the trauma of separation. But death is no longer oppressive for us because we have the assurance of entering Christ’s presence when we die-and that is far better than life here on earth (Philippians 1:23). Still, death is a time of grief and sadness.

There are three observations about dying victoriously:

1) While as believers, we prepare for death, death is not the central focus of our lives.

The central focus for us is the resurrection. Philippians 3:9-10 expresses the truth that we aim to be found in Christ, and that our goal is to know “the power of his resurrection.” We look to the day when Jesus will appear and abolish death, and transform our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body (Philippians 3:21). We look at death in light of Christ’s great triumph–His return as King of kings–raising the dead and bringing life here on earth to a conclusion. While we prepare for death, death is not the central focus of our lives. Our focus is on the resurrection.

2) While we are burdened for those we love and leave behind at death, we recognize that our dying will be great gain.

When we approach the borders of death, we are mindful of the fact that those we leave behind will be lonel and will grieve at our passing. Letting our friends behind is always painful. Hearing the news about a sudden death, or standing by the bedside of one who is dying, is always distressful. But when we arrive in the Paradise of God, the mysteries in our lives will become clear, and God will demonstrate the marvels of His grace that saved us. We are told in Ephesians 2:7 that “in the ages to come” Christ Jesus will “show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us. Even the hard times which we face in this life are products of the kindness of God.

3) While we enjoy life here on earth, it is enjoyed only temporarily, because we are ready to depart from it.

Berdene was ready to depart from this life. Only days before entering into a coma, I had finished reading portions from the Bible and praying with her. She was unable to speak audibly, but wrote this note: “I thought I would go (in death) after we read and prayed; I wanted so much to go. Mother was holding my hand. I’m not afraid. I just want so much to go, but God knows the timing.”

People of the world are not ready to depart from this life. They try and crack funny jokes, and kid around with each other. If they do talk about the afterlife, it is mostly about Saint Peter with a bunch of keys. Sometimes it seems that such conduct is engaged in to hide some of the deep feelings of fear and uncertainty that worldlings are living with. Those who are genuinely committed to serving Christ can truly enjoy life because death is not a constant dread. We think about it. It is an enemy. It brings sadness. We are not anxious for it. But deep down within we know that “to die is gain.” For the Christian, it means “to depart and to be with Christ which is far better.”

Our reparation for death begins with faith in Jesus Christ, repentance for sin, and receiving Christian baptism. It continues with believing on the Lord Jesus Christ and the work He did for us on the cross. It issues into a life that moment by moment seeks to walk in obedience to God’s Word, and to live in fellowship with His church, and to move day by day under the direction of the Holy Spirit.

For the genuine disciple of Christ, death is faced with a sense of anticipation. We look at death-like a prisoner, awaiting release from prison; like a schoolchild, when the end of the term is near; like a migrant bird, ready to fly south; and like a person in the hospital, ready to go home.

Medical science can help people die relatively painlessly, but only the Christian message of hope through Christ can help us die victoriously. Let us make it a point to avoid foolish ways of living, and seek to live wisely, skillfully, and according to God’s pattern. None of us knows how soon our lives will be snuffed out. The uncertainty of life and the certainty of death should cause us to make commitments to follow the Lord more carefully, and to bring the unsaved into a right relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.


Death is not the end, however. There is to be a resurrection from death. Everyone who has died will experience a resurrection and will live again. The Bible says, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 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.” John 5:28-29 KJV  The resurrection predicted in the Bible will be totally unlike the reported experiences of people who believe they have died and come back. Since we did nothing to deserve salvation, we have nothing to boast of.  As children of God, we can live each day with the assurance that come what may, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. The Bible says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” Ephesians 2:8 KJV If you know Christ as your Savior, you too can experience a wonderful peace. So why not today open your heart up to Jesus Christ before it is too late, because He is the One that died on the cross and shed His blood to pay the penalty for your sins so you could have that free gift of eternal life. Amen

By: Jeff Ellinger



“LOOK AROUND” MUSIC BY: KADESH – SONG TITLED: “ALIVE” – JESUS IS ALIVE !!!

April 8, 2011

ABOUT THIS VIDEO

Perfect for Easter Sunday, this uplifting video calls us to notice in each other that because Jesus lives, we who follow the Lamb are alive, as well, both now and forever. Music by Kadesh (KadeshMusic.com), song titled “Alive.” Video produced by Shift Worship.





JONNY DIAZ – “BEAUTY OF THE CROSS” – (OFFICIAL LYRICS)

April 6, 2011

ABOUT THIS VIDEO

The official lyric video for Jonny’s new song Beauty of the Cross



WAS JESUS CRUCIFIED ON A DOGWOOD ? – LEGEND OR MYSTERY OF “THE RED HEIFER”

April 6, 2011

“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

Ephesians 2:6-10 KJV

As Easter is fast approaching us, I often wondered what the cross that Jesus was crucified on was made of.  I always heard it was Dogwood, but as I searched I found out other wise. But it is in awe that whenever Easter is, whether it falls in the month of March or April, the dogwood blooms always around Easter. I found this article and found it interesting and thought I would share it with you.


Legend of the

Dogwood Tree:

True or False ?


Quick-read this article:
There is a beautiful story about the dogwood tree being the wood used for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The story, generally told at Easter when the dogwoods flower, adds that Christ caused the flowers of the dogwood to be a reminder of the cross on which He died. He allegedly did this by giving the flower two long and two short petals, and to have what look like nail prints on the petals to remind us that Christ suffered on the cross with nails through His hands. The story is quite remarkable, but unfortunately the legend is not true.

Trunk of dogwood tree Cornus floridaTHERE is a commonly told story that the dogwood tree was chosen as the wood for the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified.

The 3-verse story goes like this:

The Legend of the Dogwood

“When Christ was on earth, the dogwood grew
To a towering size with a lovely hue.
Its branches were strong and interwoven,
And for Christ’s cross its timbers were chosen.

“Being distressed at the use of the wood,
Christ made a promise which still holds good:
‘Never again shall the dogwood grow
To be large enough for a tree, and so,
Slender and twisted it shall always be,
With cross-shaped blossoms for all to see.

“’The petals shall have bloodstains marked brown,
And in the blossom’s center a thorny crown.
All who see it will think of me,
Nailed to a cross from a dogwood tree.
Protected and cherished this tree shall be,
A reflection to all of my agony.’”

Pink dogwood

The pink dogwood is said to represent the blushing of shame for shedding innocent blood. The weeping dogwood represents a heartfelt cry over this tree’s being used to crucify Christ.

Reminders of God

Dogwood pink flowerGod has placed many reminders on earth that should cause us to glorify Him for His wonderful greatness, mercy, and love. Dogwood flowers can do just that.

But we should keep in mind that there is nothing in the Bible about Christ being crucified on a dogwood tree. There is not even any mention of dogwoods in the Bible, even though the word was in use at the time the King James Version was produced in AD 1611.

And there is no reputable record anywhere that Christ cursed the tree from which the cross was made to cause it to shrink forever after, or that He changed the appearance of the flowers to remind us of His death on the cross.

In fact, the only records we have of anything Jesus Christ ever said are in the Bible. The only tree the Bible records Him as cursing (for want of a better word) was the fig tree in His illustration of the importance of faith (Matthew 21:18-22). And that was a single tree that had no fruit — it did not affect the whole species or genus of fig trees down through the ages worldwide, as the dogwood story does.

Consider also that Christ knew He would die on the cross to pay for the sins of mankind and was willing to do this. Why then would He be “distressed at the use of the wood”? That doesn’t make sense.

Legends sell

We spoke to a guide at a large city botanic gardens, who told us that guides often repeat or embellish stories about plants in the gardens to make the visit more memorable for visitors. Legends sell. Many plants have stories associated with them, but reliable information on the origin of the stories is hard to find. People repeat them without checking their accuracy.

The dogwood legend almost certainly originated in North America — it fits the flowering time, the language, and the American folk-myth style.

We could find no reference to the dogwood legend before the 20th century. It appeared in The Victoria Advocate newspaper on Sunday April 18, 1954 (page 3B), and obviously had a history before this, but we could find no ancient records of it.

Dogwoods don’t grow in Israel

To further check an essential detail of this story, we contacted the Information Center at the Ministry of Tourism in Israel to find out whether dogwoods actually grow in Jerusalem, Israel, or the surrounding areas.

Their reply?

“No, the dogwood doesn’t grow naturally in or near Israel. It is native to Europe, eastern Asia, and North America only.”

Gospel in the flowers?

Certainly some of the ingredients of the dogwood story can be used to remind us of Christ’s death on the cross: The petals in a shape of a cross, the centre as the crown of thorns, and the holes at the petals’ edges can remind us of the nail prints in Christ’s hands.

But we should never attribute the words or the curse to Christ when the evidence for this does not exist.

 

In my opinion, without going into too much detail, it is generally accepted among Christians that the Jewish sanctuary and it rituals pointed towards the coming messiah, Jesus. With that in mind, while I was studying the book of Numbers, chapter 19, about the “Red Heifer” and the “water of cleansing,” it says, “This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD hath commanded, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke:” Numbers 19:2 KJV  A heifer is a young cow that has never borne a calf. God directs that a red heifer be found that was unblemished, with no defect, and that had never had a yoke upon it. “The priest is to take some cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet wool and throw them onto the burning heifer” Although, it’s not a definite answer, and it’s not what is important when speaking of what Jesus did for us, I believe this may have been the Biblical indication that the cross was probably some type of cedar. When the heifer was killed, it was first taken outside the camp. Jesus, too, was led outside the walls of Jerusalem to die. The Bible says, “For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.” Hebrews 13:11-12 KJV  Then the heifer was burned completely, while Eleazer tossed cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet material into the fire. These are the same three materials used in the cleansing of the leper, which we examined back in Leviticus 14. The Bible says, “And the priest shall go forth out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper; Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop:” Leviticus 14:3-4 KJV  Notice the three materials present at the death of the heifer: cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet. As we learned in our study of the cleansing of the leper, the wood represented the cross, and of course hyssop was present at the crucifixion, when we read in the Bible, “Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” John 19:29-30 KJV  But what does the scarlet represent? When twins were being born to Tamar, we read in the Bible it says, “And it came to pass in the time of her travail, that, behold, twins were in her womb. And it came to pass, when she travailed, that the one put out his hand: and the midwife took and bound upon his hand a scarlet thread, saying, This came out first.” Genesis 38:27-28 KJV  In the book of Joshua, we read that Rahab hid the two spies in her house before the destruction of Jericho. The Bible says, “And the men said unto her, We will be blameless of this thine oath which thou hast made us swear. Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee. And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him.” Joshua 2:17-19 KJV  So in Joshua 2, the scarlet cord was an escape from death and a mark of deliverance. And in Leviticus 14, the bird from the heavens was fastened to the wood by the scarlet string. All three of these foreshadowing’s point to Jesus Christ, He is the firstborn from the dead, He is our escape and deliverance from death, and these were the things that held Him to the cross. You can read the Bible several times and you can interpolate however you want, it only matters when you finish reading the Bible and the outcome is the same, that Jesus Christ is Our Savior. So why not open your heart up today before it is too late, because He is the One that died on the cross and shed His blood to pay for your sins so that you could have that free gift of eternal life. Amen

By: Jeff Ellinger

 


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