Of all the resources that God give us for His glory, time is the one that can NEVER be re-cycled. As each minute of each day passes, the time expired is gone for all of eternity.
In the big picture, we are not all given the same quantity of time. Some souls will depart this world during infancy, whereas others will not depart until long after the three score and ten (70 years) spoken of in Psalms 90: 10 have come and gone.
The “not knowing” when or how one is going to depart is what will motivate the advancing disciple to make the best out of the each and every day, living one day at a time and as if it were the last day here on Earth.
Adam was on this Earth for 930 years (Gen. 5: 5), whereas the Lord Jesus Christ was here in bodily form for approx. 33.
Each one of us were or will be here for the specific amount of time necessary to complete his /her part in the Master Plan of God, but no more and no less.
This includes those who seek out and knowingly execute the plan of God that God had in mind for them, and those who unknowingly fulfill the part that God decreed for them.
The Divine Decree consists of all the activity that has taken place; all the activity that is taking place, and all the activity that will take place involving the human race as a whole, and each individual soul, from its/their creation (Gen. 2:7/John 3: 6) to its/their entrance into the eternal state (Rev. 21).
Once created, the soul NEVER ceases to exist. The soul is in intangible part of us that was created in God’s (never-ending) likeness (Gen. 1: 26, 27).
The concept of “soul sleep” is a false teaching. Scripture, such as (Luke 16: 22-25/Rev.6: 10), document a conscious experience after the soul departs the body, and before the Rapture (1Thess. 4: 16) takes place.
Superstitions and Man-made religion both offer many false traditions and practices that promote making an improvement in the location and the quality of the experience of a departed soul. Scripture (John 3: 18/1Cor. 3: 12-15/ Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26/Rev. 3: 5, 12, 21) teach that the location and experiential of a departed soul are determined by the decisions that the individual made during his/her time while here on Earth.
Supporters of the soul sleep concept, cite such verses as (Ezekiel 18: 20) and/or point out that none of the persons raised from dead by the Lord Jesus Christ spoke of their out of body experiences.
As for Ezekiel 18: 20 , the type of death in view there is spiritual death. It was spiritual death that was experienced by Adam and Eve on the day they sinned. Spiritual death is not a state of non-existence, but existing, while out of fellowship with God.
The lake of fire spoken of in Rev. 20: 15 is NOT a place of total annihilation, but one of NEVER ending torment, separated from God.
Being spiritually dead is the condition of the human being from birth until he/she is born again.
If one chooses to reject the presentation of the Gospel Message, he/she will experience spiritual death in what the Bible calls the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15) for all of eternity.
The lake of fire differs from the Torments of Hades. The Torments of Hades has served and continues to serve as the "holding tank" that will be emptied out when the departed souls of all unbelievers are summoned to the Court of Heaven, and then sent into the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 13, 15). The lake of fire is where the devil (Rev. 20: 10), his associates (Rev. 20: 10), and unbelieving souls (Rev. 20: 15) of the human race will spend ALL of eternity future. The lake of fire is not a place of total anihilation, but one of never-ending torment, separated from God (Rev. 20: 10).
As for the silence (or no recording) of the experience of the ones who were raised and/or who returned from the dead (John 11: 44/Matt. 27: 52, 53), note that Paul was forbidden to speak of the revelations he encountered during his visit or visions (2Cor. 12: 3) to/of the 3rd Heaven (1Cor. 12: 4).
The sleep being referred to in such passages as 1Cor. 11: 30 is referring to the physical death of the body, not the soul.
The sleep referenced in 1Thess. 4: 14 refers to the physical death that departed souls experienced when they left their physical bodies behind and received an interim body in Heaven (2Cor. 5: 1).
Moses, whose physical body had been buried (Deut. 34: 6) and turned to dust centuries before, appeared in his interim body during the transfiguration incident recorded in Matt. 17: 3/Mark 9: 4.
The “calling up from the grave,” spoken of in 1Thess. 4: 16 refers to the physical resurrection of the dust (Gen. 3: 19) or decaying bodily remains of departed believers. It is at the Rapture that God transforms one's dust into a glorious resurrected body. It is at the Rapture that the departed souls that had been in interim bodies (2Cor. 5: 1) receive their glorious bodies in which they will indwell for all of eternity future.
It is at the Rapture that the physical bodies of all the believers who are alive on the Earth are transformed into their eternal and glorious bodies (1Thess. 4: 17). This group of Church Age believers will NEVER experience physical death or ever have the need to received an interim body.
Both groups (the departed souls in interim bodies in Heaven and the believers alive on the Earth at the time) are united into one group and meet the Lord in the air (1Thess. 4: 17) above the Earth.
The Rapture is what brings the dispensation of the Church Age, but not the end of the Earth or and end to human history. Scripture speaks of much activity (Rev. 20: 1-10, etc.,) that still remains to be fulfilled here on Earth AFTER the Rapture and BEFORE the New Heaven and Earth of Rev. 21 are established.
According to 1THess. 4: 17, from the time of the Rapture forward, the unified Church, consisting of all the believers of the Church Age, will be wherever the Lord is (1Thess. 4: 17); be it in Heaven, on Earth, or in the new heaven and earth to come Rev. 21.
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The Divine Decree consists of all that God directs, as well as all that God allows to take place. The Divine Decree does not violate the free will that God gave to angelic and human beings. Only a God with omniscience (all knowledge) could have authored the Divine Decree, speaking of future events as if they had already taken place. God, in His omniscience, knew of the impact of all the choices that all the individual angelic and human beings would make, and factored this knowledge into the pages of human history when He wrote the Divine Decree.
God’s plan for the human race will unfold just as God decreed. There is an eternity that awaits each and every soul that God created. W-h-e-r-e and h-o-w any given soul will experience that eternity is based on the choices (John 3: 5, 7, 16, 18/ 1Cor. 3: 14, 15) that each soul makes for him/herself.
There is an existing earth (Gen. 1: 1) and there is a new Earth to come (Rev. 21). There is a 3rd heaven (2Cor. 12: 2), and there is a lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15).
Regardless of what any one soul or groups of soul may do or fail to do, the Master Plan that God decreed for the human race will be fulfilled.
There can be huge portions of the human race lost due to war, plagues, natural and divine-ordered disasters, but the human race, the Church, and the Jewish people will remain until all that prophecy concerning them is fulfilled.
God has and will continue to intervene in the course of human history (e.g. John 3: 16) in order for the Divine Decree to be fulfilled. Much of the negativity that is experienced here on Earth is the end results of the choices that human beings make with the free will that they were given, but such negativity will not altar what the Divine Decree has established.
What makes us accountable to God is the fact that it IS we who make our own choices, setting the stage for either salvation or the wrath of God. One’s post (after) salvation choices do not alter the location, but does determine what (if any) rewards are to be received or forfeited at the 1Cor. 3:12-15 event that takes place in Heaven.
Nothing ever has, or ever will, take place unless the sovereign will of God sent it or allows it. Whatever (Job 2: 10) God sends or allows has a divine purpose behind it.
There are many times that make accepting some of what God allows to take place "a hard pill to swallow." It is when we find ourselves in the midst of such things that we choose to accept the adversity that God sent or at least has allowed (Job 2: 10) to take place, or we allow the devil to drive a wedge between us and our fellowship (2Cor. 13: 14) with the Lord.
Loss of fellowship (2Cor. 13: 14) with God can be best explained when comparing it to the marriage environment. When married partners are having a "spat," they are still married, but there is little or no communication taking place, nor is there any great desire to spend any meaningful time or engage in any meaningful activity until whatever caused the spat to take place is resolved. It can be like two strangers, sitting side-by-side on a bus that is headed for the same destination, but there is little (if any) communication or interaction between them along the way.
Time spent out of fellowship with God is time that is wasted.
Being out of fellowship will not result in the loss of the salvation that a born again believer has already received, but can impact the quality of his/her post salvation spiritual life . Diminished quality of a post salvation spiritual life here on Earth reduces the quantity of the rewards and privileges in Heaven.
The devil cannot cause a born again believer to lose his/her salvation, but can indeed place much pressure on the soul with the objective of destroying (1Pet. 5: 8) one’s intimate fellowship with the Lord.
The devil is well aware of the destruction that can take place when one is out of fellowship (2Cor. 13: 14) with God. This plays right into the devil's hand who desires to deny God as much glory as he can.
Walking hand in hand in fellowship with the Lord is easy when things are going our way. It is when our faith is challenged that our souls are bared that we see ourselves for what we really are in the spiritual realm.
The tests that God sends our way are not for God to find out how well we are doing. God already knows that. The test are for US to see how well (if) we are progressing along the road to spiritual maturity, how much of our time is being invested or wasted.
I do not personally know of an advancing disciple who has not been “put through the ringers” of life along the road to spiritual maturity. If any such cases do exist, they are few and far between.
During the Old Testament dispensation, the after-life experience was generally viewed as being neither an environment of of extreme pleasure or suffering. If one was to receive prosperity from God, they were, according to general consensus, to be received during his/her time here on Earth. There are many uninformed Church Age believers who have this same viewpoint. Because of their prosperity, many such believers think that they or others are on the cutting edge of Christianity, when in truth they are not even on the battlefield (Eph. 6).
Some of the most godly individuals lost their lives and/or everything that this world has to offer in order to glorify God, while some of the most wicked, evil, destructive, individuals in human history experienced great wealth and earthly prosperity.
To the extent that God allows, the devil has the power to "bless" anyone or anything that works to the devil's advantage in the realm of spiritual combat (Luke 4: 6). The prosperity of the wicked is a spiritual issue that has been asked by virtually every generation of Man. God's answer (Psalms 73) has not changed.
There are some things (Deut. 29: 29) that we will NEVER have a satisfactory answer for this side of Heaven. It is when we reach the level of spiritual maturity that we can dealt the greatest blow that the devil can muster, but can still move forward in the plan of God that we can be best used by the hands of God.
Spiritual maturity is never easily secured or maintained, but the unwavering trust and confidence in the Lord that accompanies spiritual maturity will not go unnoticed.
Rather or not we, as individuals or groups of individuals, will decide to identify and follow the plan (John 3: 16/Luke 9: 23) that God has in mind, is a choice that we make for ourselves, reaping either the blessings or the consequences of our own decisions.
There was, is now, and will be divine intervention in the course of human history that will keep Man on the ultimate course that God has decreed. These “interventions” can include disasters, tragedies and tribulation, as well blessing and prosperity.
God always has been, is now, and will forever be the One is charge. He has chosen to reveal some of things that He had and has in mind (Deut. 29: 29), but “owes” no one an explanation for anything (Isa. 45: 9) that He chooses to do or NOT to do.
If WE place conditions on IF and WHEN we will pursue the plan of God, it is WE who have placed obstacles in our own path to God or in the pathway of our walk with the Lord towards the goal of spiritual maturity.
The Army of God is an all volunteer outfit. The retaining of the salvation that a born again believer has a-l-r-e-a-d-y secured is not contingent upon his/her participation or success in the realm of spiritual combat.
As in the case of any other combat unit, the spiritual warrior who is the one called upon to execute the most difficult of missions is the one who has had the most training and experience. Time spent preparing for future combat is time well invested.
The spiritual warrior is “prepared” for combat through the intake and application of the Word of God. Each level of combat is what prepares the spiritual warrior for the next, usually more intense, mission.
One is not going to find much preparation as long as he/she desires to remain within the confines of his/her comfort zone. The classic example of a believer who remains in his/her comfort zone is the one who "checks in" at a local assembly (church) once a week, goes through motions, takes in a little socialization, and departs, but makes no progress along the road to spiritual maturity. The problem with that scenario is that if one is not progressing, then he/she is regressing. Time spent regressing is time wasted.
Man (and each one of us) was created to glorify God and to serve His purposes; and NOT the other way around.
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Among the things that God decreed was the t-i-m-e of our individual creation and the t-i-m-e of our individual departure. Note I said “the” time and not “a” time.
The appointed time of one’s i-n-d-i-v-i-d-u-a-l creation and the time of one’s i-n-d-i-v-i-d-u-a-l departure are in the hands of God (Psalms 31: 15), not ours.
It was NOT a part of the plan of God for us as individuals to be on the earth during the unfolding of universal or human history that took place prior to the appointed time of our individual birth.
It will be NOT be a part of the plan of God for us as individuals to be here on earth during any of the events that will take place after the appointed time of our individual departure.
Never-the-less, it is important to secure a clear understanding of what events brought the human race to the place it was when we, as an individual soul, were created and placed into the time line of the Master Plan of God. Just as in map orientation, one must first determine where he is before he can set a course for any given destination. This is why they have those YOU ARE HERE indicators on the maps at the rest areas along a highway or in the parks.
As good stewards of the body that God (not our biological patents) put us in at birth (John 3: 6/Gen. 2: 7), we should take all reasonable care to make the best of what we are in physical realm. But keep in mind that people die every day for reasons that had NOTHING to do with their physical condition. According to global statistics, about 151,600 individuals depart this world every day. For many of them, their departure was the last thing that was on their mind or on the minds of many who knew them when they went to bed last night or got up this morning.
Scripture (John 3: 6) teach that our physical bodies are the result of the human reproduction process that God designed. Bringing “a” baby into the world may or may not have been what was on the minds of the ones involved the moment that what would b-e-c-o-m-e our physical body (at birth) was conceived.
However, The timing for the creating our soul and its placement in the body of His choosing was not a random act, but of divine design and purpose.
Human viewpoint would argue that the world would have been better off if certain souls had never been created, in light of the great evil, or the pain and suffering that these souls inflicted on others during their time here on Earth.
The omniscience of God was fully aware of all the good and/or evil that every soul would choose to engage in throughout the course of his/her time here on Earth.
Q.: If such things were known to God BEFORE any one of us were born, why does God hold us individually accountable?
A.: Because at the various times in our personal or corporate history that OUR choice(s) are made, we do/did so with the free will that we were given by God.
God will provide the means of success (Matt. 24: 27/Phil. 4: 19) and the power (John 15: 5) to apply (James `1: 22) the means of success in the realm of spiritual combat, but one must choose to invest in the time it takes to prepare oneself to apply what God provides when the moment of truth arrives. Knowing what one must do BEFORE the moment of truth arrives is key to success (Matt. 7: 24-27).
Trainers of military and police personnel can tell you, when under stress, one will most likely do what he/she has been trained to do. The unprepared will either freeze (do nothing) or do what "feels" right at the moment, often times resulting in disaster or not getting the job done.
The moment of truth is when the pressure is on to do what comes “natural” to us instead of doing what God desires, with the enabling power (John 15: 5) that He supplies.
The devil (1Pet. 5: 8), our own fallen nature (Romans 7: 23), and the forces of evil (Eph. 6: 12), may seem to be have an overwhelming power of suggestion over us, but Scripture (1Cor. 10: 13) tells us that the advancing disciple will not be so tempted as not to have the means of escape. The spiritual challenge is to take the time it takes to prepare oneself by learning the doctrine that provides the advancing disciple with the means of escape (1Cor. 10: 13). Once we know what it is that we are to do or refrain from doing, it is a matter of developing the willingness to apply (James 1: 22) the doctrine when the moment of truth arrives.
One of the reasons that God allows some of the adversity to come our way is to demonstrate to us (#1) that we have been negligent in the study of the Word of God, and/or (#2) as a reminder that we are to execute the post salvation spiritual life with the enabling power (John 15: 5), and NOT with our own human resources.
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Unlike our own, the bodies of Adam and Eve were not born. Each one was created in separate incidents. Even so, Gen. 2: 7 teach that body is established first, and THEN the soul in placed into it. The same "body-first" principle is still in view when speaking of the bodies of each generation of Man that is reproduced through human sexuality that God designed.
James 3: 6 teach that it is God (not the human parents) that creates the soul and place it in the body at BIRTH, simultaneously with one taking in his/her first breath (Gen. 2: 7)outside of the womb.
With *one exception, the human fetus that becomes the body at one's birth is conceived through human sexuality (or artificial insemination), developed in the womb, and brought forth at birth through the biological process that God designed.
The *one exception involved the conception of the fetus that what would become the body of the Lord Jesus Christ. This body was not produced as a result of sexual relations between Mary and Joseph (Matt. 1: 25), but via the Work of God the Holy Spirit (Luke 1: 35).
God chose divine intervention (Luke 1: 35) for the c-o-n-c-e-p-t-i-o-n of the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ that took place in N-a-z-a-r-e-t-h, nine months before (the Lord Jesus Christ) came into the world in in B-e-t-h-l-e-h-e-m, when the body was brought forth at His b-i-r-t-h (Luke 2: 11).
The necessity for the divine c-o-n-c-e-p-t-i-o-n is explained in detail in the Doctrine of the Hypostatic Union.
For the purpose of this presentation, it is sufficient to note that it is at the moment of conception during the reproductive between humans that the sin nature and spiritual death condition is passed down to the fetus through the male partner. The sin nature becomes a part of one's total being when soul is placed in the body at birth (John 3: 6/Gen. 2: 7). The sin nature is left behind when the soul departs the body at the moment of physical death (Romans 7: 24).
With the one exception, (already addressed), John 3: 6 teach that it is the human part in the process to reproduce a body, but that the creation of soul and the placing of it in the body take place simultaneously with the taking in of one's first breath of natural life (Gen. 2: 7).John 19:30 teach that it is shortly after the body receives its last breath of natural life that the soul departs.
If and when God allows it, Man is capable of destroying his own body (suicide) and/or the bodies of others (homicide), but NEVER the soul.
Prior to receiving the soul (at birth), the physically alive and developing human fetus in the womb will respond to stimuli produced by the mother and/or other stimuli generated from external sources outside of the womb (Luke 1: 41).
Note that is was Elizabeth who was filled by Spirit, and that the fetus she was carrying responded to the reaction of Elizabeth.
The fact that it was Elizabeth and not the fetus that was filled by the Spirit during the Luke 1: 41 incident is an important principle to be understood.
Many scholars favoring the NIV and NASB English translations of Scripture promote the Luke 1:41 incident as a fulfillment of the Luke 1: 15 prophesy that John would be filled with Spirit, “before he was born (NIV),” or, “ while yet in the womb (NASB).”
To be filled by the Spirit requires that one be consciously submitted to the control of God the Holy Spirit. All Church Age believers are indwelt by God the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 2: 16), but are not always Spirit filled, that is, under His control. When we choose to engage in sin, we have cast off the filling, but not the indwelling of the Spirit. If we choose to do so, God allows us to use the free will that we have been given to do so. Its not that we have power over God, but to be Spirit filled is choice that we make.
When we sin, we are NOT Spirit filled (submitted to the control of God the Holy Spirit), but have submitted the control of our mind to the suggestive power of our fallen nature (Gal. 5: 16/Romans 7:21).
As of the moment one is born again, he/she is Spirit indwelt (1Cor. 3: 16), bur rather or one is Spirit filled (controlled), is a choice the make in any given situation. When out of fellowship with God, one is not filled (under the control of) God the Holy Spirit. Regaining the filling (control) of God the Holy Spirit is accomplished when we confess (1John 1: 9) the sin that caused us to get out of fellowship in the first place.
The post salvation spiritual life is all about the production of divine good that glorifies God. In order to produce divine good, the Church Age disciple must be submitted to the control and the power (John 15: 5) of the God the Holy Spirit, thus highlighting the need to be in fellowship (2Cor. 13: 14) with God. IF we confess (1John 1: 9), but fail to forsake (John 8: 11) the type of sin involved, our return to fellowship with God will be short-lived. This principle highlights the damage that sins of habit or lifestyle can do to the quality of one's post salvation spiritual life.
Fellowship begins at the moment one is born again (John 3: 5, 7). Fellowship (not salvation) is lost when we choose to sin, but is regained the moment we confess our known sin to the Lord (1John 1: 9). The length of time that is spent (wasted) out of fellowship with God can be as brief as the few seconds it takes to confess the sin, or as long as the rest of one's post salvation spiritual life if the is not confessed (1John 1: 9). When any sin (James 2: 10) becomes a lifestyle, it is necessary to also forsake (John 8: 11) the sin, as well, if one is to move forward in the plan of God.
Without a doubt, being out of fellowship due to sin that has not been confessed and/or forsaken, is the primary cause of a life that has been wasted, no matter how otherwise "successful" or religious it may be.
The history (Luke 1: 7-15) behind the conception and birth of John the Baptist makes it clear that God the Holy Spirit was in control of the timing and the unique events involving the conception, the birth, lifestyle, and the spiritual calling of John the Baptist.
To this extent, the f-e-t-u-s that would become the humanity of the John the Baptist was under the control of God the Holy Spirit while “in” the womb of Elizabeth.
As true as this is, it should be noted that the filling of the P-E-R-S-O-N of John the Baptist by God the Holy Spirit DID not take place “in” the womb, as the P-E-R-S-O-N does not come into picture until BIRTH.
Many PERSONS were temporally filled by God the Holy Spirit, enabling them to produce miraculous activity during the Old Testament dispensations. The classic example of this would be the life of Sampson.
In several of the English (language) Bibles, there is a problem with the translation of the Greek word “E-K” in Luke 1: 15. This is not surprising in light of the fact that this word is one of the most mistranslated Greek words in Scripture. When the translation of a word fails to convey the full meaning, it has been "under-stated," and therefore mistranslated. This is what it means when it is said that something was lost in the translation. It is very hard to accurately translate some of the Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic language in which the original languages of inspired Scripture were composed. Furthermore, words and phrases can take on different meanings as time moves on. This highlights the need to interpret and apply Scripture in light of (#1) the original language of the verse, (#2) the historical setting that identifies what dispensation(s) is/are in view, and by comparing the verse in view will ALL other verses that address the same subject.
Otherwise, a clever writer or speaker can make the Bible appear to say just about anything he/she wants.
In the case of Luke 1: 15, the KJV and many of the Bibles acknowledged by the Roman Catholic Church, did the best job in the translation.
Luke 1: 15 in King James Version (KJV) of Scripture is presented this way:
“For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from (NOT IN) his mother’s womb.”
The sources that I found define the Greek word “e-k” as FROM and not in. The Greek word refers to something that came forth FROM something.
In the case at hand, it refers to the person of John of Baptist being filled of the Spirit after having come FROM (and not in) the womb of Elizabeth.
Critics of “The Bible” often point to such h-u-m-a-n errors in an attempt to challenge the credibility of Scripture.
However, the issue is NOT with Scripture, but with the erroneous ways in which original Scripture has been copied, interpreted, and applied.
Further complicating the credibility issue was the result of “religious” authorities having incorporated the 11 (or 12) Apocryphal Books into various versions of “The Bible.”
The “religious” writings were composed during the 400 “years of silence” when God did not speak to or through human prophets, as He had done throughout the course of the Old Testament dispensation. The fact that it was not God speaking is enough for an advancing disciple to reject these writing as being Scripture.
"All Scripture (not all religious writing that) is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness (2Tim. 3: 16 NASB italics mine)."
These books are the basis of several FALSE teachings and related practices found within the Roman Catholic sector of the Christian Community. These false teachings and practices promote concepts that are not endorsed in any of the 39 Old Testaments Books of Scripture, or in any of the 27 New Testament Books of Scripture. None of these writings were ever cited by the Lord Jesus Christ, or any of His apostles. Some of these teachings actually contradict some of the fundamental doctrines of the faith.
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The timing of the creation, as well as the specific body that we (our soul) were placed in at birth, are all a part of the plan that God has in mind for the individual soul in view.
The body that God chose it the one that the individual needs to fulfill HIS plan, but not necessarily the one that we would have chosen, if we were given such a choice. If one needed a body that would function for 930 years (as did Adam - Gen. 5: 5 ) then that is the body that God would have placed us in. If the body that one was placed in is (or becomes) relatively dysfunctional, that is still the body that God chose in order to fulfill His purposes. The omniscience of God knew of all the details concerning the body that He chose for each one of us.
From the moment we took our first breath, our individual “clock” started ticking D-O-W-N!
The heart is NOT the clock.
The heart begins to beat in the fetus in the womb.
With modern day medical technology, a stopped heart is a dysfunctional biological organ that in some cases can be restarted, repaired, and even replaced.
But when our “clock” stops, it cannot be restarted unless, as in rare cases (John 11: 44), when God chooses to do so with a divine purpose in mind.
The “clock” of every person that the Lord raised from the dead during His time here on Earth eventually stopped and did not restart.
Such persons as medical professionals, first responders, "every-day" individuals, and even what seemed to be an insignificant choice at the time, can all result in the preservation of a life, but NONE of the above can add single tic to the clock that God has assigned to one of us (Matt. 6: 27).
If it is NOT our time to depart, we will not die, but when our appointed time comes, we will depart.
This intangible clock began ticking DOWN when we took in our first breath of natural life, and will stop shortly after the last breath is received.
The soul, that was placed in our body at the moment of physical birth, will depart at the moment of physical death (John 19: 30). From divine viewpoint, our remaining time here on Earth is getting shorter and shorter, and not longer and longer. Every tic received brings us closer to the last tick that we are ever going to receive.
Our time here on Earth begins when our clock starts ticking at birth, and our time here on Earth ends when our clock has issued its last tic.
We have NO control over the amount of tics that our individual clock has been assigned, but we have much control over how that time is either, invested or wasted.
With our God-given free will, we can choose to totally waste away time that we have been given, producing neither human good nor divine good.
With our God-given free will, we can choose to invest our time on the things that pertain to life here on Earth, producing various types and amounts of human good. The benefits of the human good we produce, symbolized as the wood, hay, and straw of 1Cor. 3, will be experienced here on Earth, but are of NO merit concerning the 1Cor. 3: 15 rewards or the Rev. Chapters 2 and 3, privileges that can be received in Heaven and experienced throughout all of eternity.
Although human good will provide great benefits for the one producing it, and great service for others who benefit by it here on Earth, the record of such deeds will go up in smoke (1Cor. 3: 14) at the Evaluation of Deeds event (1Cor. 3: 12-15) in Heaven.
Atheists and spiritually dead souls produce all kinds of human good every day, but they will not find themselves at the 1Cor. 3: 12-16 event. Their "Judgment Day" will the event documented in Rev. 20: 13, 15.
The bad news (for many born again believers) is that the 1Cor. 3: 12-15 event will be a shocking disappointment for many as they see what they thought had earned them eternal reward goes up in smoke!
The good news is that the eternal security of such born again believers remains in tact, event if they receive little or no reward (1Cor. 3: 15).
With our God-given free will, born again believers (John 15: 5) can choose to invest or to waste the time of their post salvation spiritual life.
With our God-given free will, born again believers can invest his/her time is the storing up of worldly goods; all of which (if any) will be left behind when we depart (Matt. 6: 19).
With our God-given free will, we can invest our time in the storing up treasures in Heaven (Matt. 6: 20). Where we choose to store our treasures reveals where out hearts are (Matt. 6: 21). Many people have a pretty good idea of what the balance of their earthly accounts are, but haven't a clue as to what the balance of their heavenly account might be, or how to make a "deposit."
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Until one is born again, he/she remains as spiritually dead as the day he/she was born. There are no degrees of spiritual life. One is 100% spiritually alive, as a result of the Titus 3: 5 regeneration, or he/she is 100% spiritually dead.
The spiritual issue concerning religion is that one can be very religious, but remain spiritually dead. The lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15) will be filled with many religious souls.
Religion (including “Christian” religion) consists of all that Man does (or has done) in a futile attempt to make or to keep himself “right” with God. Time spent in religion is time wasted, as it produces N-O-T-H-I-N-G in the spiritual realm (John 15: 5). Time invested in the post salvation spiritual life is time well invested. Needless to say, it is quite clear which of these options (practicing religion or executing the post salvation spiritual life) the devil would have us embrace.
When an advancing disciple is asked if he/she is a "religious" person, his/her response should be, " Definitely not! ," hopefully providing him/her with the opportunity to explain the eternal difference from being religious and spiritual.
Spirituality is all about receiving eternal life via believing (placing one’s full trust and confidence) in the Person (Lamb of God) and the (atoning) Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Religion is all about all the Man-made alternatives to make and or to keep oneself right with God.
The post (after) salvation spiritual life is NOT for the purpose of retaining salvation, but for living a life that brings glory to God. The divine good produced throughout the course of one's post salvation spiritual life is what glorifies God in time and will be rewarded in Heaven.
For the purpose of this presentation, we are going to make reference to the (Luke 19) parable, with a couple of substitutions for the purpose of illustration.
These substitutions are NOT “adding to Scripture (Prov. 30:6),” but are being used to teach the principle of stewardship regarding the appointed amount of time that each of us has received. Our stewardship of the time we have received is what determines how well it was invested.
In the Luke 19 parable, each servant was given the same amount of money to invest for their master while he was away (vs. 13).
In the case of time, however, each one of us is NOT given the same amount.
Be it relatively short or long, it is precisely the amount of time needed to accomplish God's purposes, with or without our conscious participation.
Some of us will depart during infancy; some in childhood; some in the teen-aged years; some as young adults; some in middle-age; some as elderly.
In each case, the amount of time will not be one second more or one second less than God has decreed it to be.
Our departure is a certainty, but the means, timing, and location remains to be one of the Deut. 29: 29 secrets that God, that in most cases,is not foretell.
Such things as our genes, environment, and activities can indicate what "the odds are" for personally experiencing or avoiding life-ending disease and trauma. But even if "the odds” are a million to one for or against us, we do not know if we are going to be the “one” in any given situation.
God is in charge. It is He who is the great Time-keeper of the individual clock that we have been assigned. It is He who turned it on, and it is He who will shut it off.
Not knowing when our individual departure will take place is what will motivate the advancing disciple to treat each and every day as his last, making the most of life, one day at a time (Matt. 6: 34).
Here in the Church Age, we come into this world with a physically alive body, a functioning brain, but a spirit that is dead towards God and the things of God.
This spiritual death was passed down to our humanity at the moment what would become our body at birth was conceived (Psalms 51: 5).
Spiritual regeneration is not the result of being put through or going through a “religious” ritual.
Spiritual regeneration (Titus 3: 5) is the Work and function of God that automatically takes place at the moment if/when we are born again (John 3: 5, 7).
Until one is born again, his/her life is spiritually void (dead).
Just as a physically dead man can do nothing in the natural realm, a spiritually dead man can do nothing in the spiritual realm.
Even after one is born again, it still takes the filling of the Spirit and the enabling (John 15:5) power of God to produce divine (as opposed to human) good.
A spiritually dead man can be very religious, but God is not interested in Man-made religion(s). Man made religions are among the things that Man holds in high esteem that God finds "detestable (Luke 16:15 NASB)."
God views religion in this negative way because it misrepresents God and/or the true things of God. It saddens God, I am sure, to for Him to see sincere, but deceived, souls engage in religious activity thinking that all is well as a result.
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Continuing on with our Luke 19 parable, we see that the servants had different levels of success as a result of how each one chose to handle the money they were given (vs. 16-21), and how each one was either commended and rewarded (vs. 17, 19), or reprimanded (vs. 22).
The same will be true of born again believers when how the time they received is evaluated at the 1Cor. 3: 12-15 event that will take place in Heaven.
If one is NOT born again, he/she will not be at the Evaluation of Deeds (1Cor. 12-15) event, as this event is for the purpose of rewarding born again believers for the production of divine good (if there was any) during the course of their post salvation spiritual life.
As in the case of the good and faithful servants in the Luke 19 parable, the Evaluation of Deeds event in Heaven (1Cor. 3: 12:15) will be a glorious event for the born again believers who involved him/herself in the production of divine good.
As in the case of the unproductive servant in the Luke 19 parable, the Evaluation of Deeds event in Heaven will be a event of regret involving the loss of rewards and privileges for the born again believers that did not (1Cor. 3: 15) involve themselves with the production of divine good.
The good news is that the salvation of the unproductive servant (born again believer) is not lost (1Cor. 3: 15).
The bad news is that it will be there and then that the unproductive servant will learn just how much time of his/her post salvation spiritual life was wasted.
Wasted time is accumulative time spent out of fellowship with God due to sin that was not confessed (1John 1: 8) and/or not forsaken (John 8: 11).
Wasted time consists of the all the blown opportunities that one had to be involved in the production of divine good (1Pet. 3: 15).
Wasted time is accumulated time spent on religious, but spiritually-void, activity (Mark 7: 7/Matt. 15: 9).
Wasted time consists of all the accumulated times one chose other activities instead of *gathering together (Heb. 10: 25) to celebrate the Lord’s Supper (Communion) (1Cor. 11: 24, 25) and to be taught the Word of God for the development of discipleship. In our time of technology, one can *gather together physically, or via the many means of communication.
The bad news is that it is at this Evaluation of Deeds event (1COr. 3: 12-15) that many born again believers will finally learn, that although the residency in Heaven of a born again believer is eternally secure, one’s eternal experience will be impacted by the negative choices that they entertained while here on Earth.
Show me a person who chooses to live in/with ANY (James 1: 10) sin and I will show you a person who is out of fellowship with God and not producing divine good. At “best” he/she might be one who goes to Church, is “otherwise” a “good” person, hears the Word of God being taught, but who fails to make application of Scripture that points to issues that he/she needs to personally address. Scripture (James 1: 22) tells us that such a believer is self-deceived in his/her walk (fellowship) with the Lord. He/she is not only on a path of self-destruction, but can be used by the devil to lead others astray, as well.
In Luke 17: 1 (NASB) we read, "And He said to His disciples. "It is inevitable that stumbling blocks should come, but woe to him through whom they come." Sin is NOT the only stumbling block. Man-made religion is a stumbling block as well! For an edified believer, what is SIN is easily identified, whereas distinguishing what is spiritual from what is religious is not.
Being sincere will do one no good when he/she is sincerely WRONG. A bullet fired in ignorance can be just as lethal as the one fired with malicious intent.
It will be at the Evaluation of Deeds that many born again believers will finally learn the difference between religious activity and spiritual activity.
Accordingly, if one is not to waste, but to best invest his time here on Earth, there is a need to distinguish what is of earthly importance and what is of eternal significance.
Producing human good is the means through which most both sinner and saint provides logistical support and practical service for ourselves and our dependents while making our personal contribution to society at large. Our human good can be produced at home, on the job, or in our professional environment.
At times, deeds of human good and divine good can involve the same activity, but in such cases it is the motivation (self-centered vs. Christ-centered) and the power source (John 15: 5) that makes the distinction between what is of human good and what is divine. Both spiritually dead and born again believers can, for a variety of reasons, choose to feed the poor, be hospital towards strangers, clothe the naked, visit the sick or imprisoned.
Spending time in the production of human good has its own earthly rewards here to Earth, but it must be distinguished from the production of divine good.
The need to produce human good is common to all men and women, be they people of faith or not.
God can and does make use of the human good that is produced, regardless of who it is the one doing the work. This principle can be applied to virtually any profession or trade when it comes to the production of human good. When you are in need of an emergency medical procedure, the spiritual status of the doctor or surgeon is not the first thing that usually comes to mind when choosing who is going to be doing the operation.
There is spiritual “downside” to the production of human good when it is misidentified as being divine good, or when it becomes an impediment to the promotion of the true Gospel Message and/or accurate post salvation doctrine. There have been many religious humanitarians and religious-humanitarian organizations throughout the course of the Church Age that promote false Gospels and false practices.
While the humanitarian deeds (feeding,clothing, medical attention) provide great logistical blessings to those who benefit by it, one must consider his/her own accountability if one "partners" in the promotion of false Gospels and/or false doctrines/practices in the process.
Creditable organizations will often provide its supporters with options as to where and how their donations will be invested. Such policies afford the donators the opportunity to engage in such activities as clothing/ feeding the poor, providing needed shelter/protection, providing medical attention, without supporting the promotion of false Gospels or false doctrines. The preferred scenario would be to invest one's time and/or money with organizations that prioritize the needs (salvation/edification) of the soul while providing tangible aid to the ones they serve.
Although there is the need to produce human good, and there IS reward and logistical compensation for its production here on Earth, it is totally rejected for having any merit towards receiving the 1Cor. 3 rewards or the Rev. Chapters 2 &3 privileges to be received and experienced in eternity.
1Cor.3-12 makes it clear that it is the production of divine good (symbolized as silver, gold, and precious stones) that is the basis for which the 1Cor. 3: 12-15 rewards and the Rev. Chapters 2 & 3 are to be received, and NOT any of the deeds of human good.
Divine good glorifies God. The glorification of God is what the post salvation spiritual life is all about. We do NOT glorify God in order to be rewarded, but God has made it clear that He is going to reward (in Heaven) the ones who glorify Him while here on Earth.
The divine good is produced through any given born again believer while here on Earth is what will determine his/her rewards and privileges in Heaven.
From the eternal prospective, time that is invested in the production of divine good is never wasted (Heb. 6: 10), but time spent on ANYTHING that is counter-productive to the production of divine good IS time wasted.
When supporting humanitarian projects, one must be careful not to partner with evil in the process (2John 1: 10, 11/2Cor. 6: 14). There are many
religious humanitarians and organizations that do a lot of great humanitarian work feeding/clothing/sheltering the needy, but also promote false Gospels and false post salvation doctrine and practices. Such time or funds are best invested in organizations that prioritize the spiritual needs of the soul while engaging in the practical needs of the body.
God ( 1Cor. 12: 18) has a spiritual gift (1Cor. 12: 1) and an accompanying ministry (1Cor. 12: 7) in mind for each and every born again believer. In most cases, this gift and ministry is to be executed while we engage in our daily activities. One's spiritual gift will have something to do with the fulfillment of the Great Commission. The Great Commission calls for the promoting of the Gospel Message for salvation, and promoting accurate Bible Doctrine for the execution of the post salvation spiritual life.
“For God is not unjust, so as to forget your work (divine good) and the love that you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and is still ministering to the saints (Heb. 6: 10 NABS).”
The “work” is divine good (1Cor. 3). The “ministering” is the execution of one’s spiritual gift (1Cor. 11). The saints are born again believers HERE on Earth.
Q.: What then is the spiritual significance of all the daily time spent in one’s domestic, professional, occupational, social, or recreational activity?
A: Such things is what determines (on a regular basis) WHERE the advancing disciple is to serve as Christ’s ambassador (2Cor. 5: 20).
Every born again believer is called to ambassadorship, but very few make the grade.
Only a minority of each generation becomes born again believers. Only a minority of born again believers become advancing disciples (Luke 14: 26). Only a minority of advancing disciples become ambassadors.
An ambassador is a born again believer who has advanced in the post salvation spiritual life of discipleship to the extent that he/she can be used of God to fulfill His plan as he/she goes about engaged in his/her daily activities. God’s plan for the dispensation of the Church Age is the fulfillment of the Great Commission. The Great Commission involves presenting the Gospel Message to unbelievers, and sharing Bible Doctrine with fellow believers for the development of post salvation discipleship.
An ambassador is an individual who speaks and acts in behalf of one kingdom while residing in another. In the Church Age, the spiritual ambassador represents the Kingdom of God HERE in the devil’s world (Luke 4: 6).
Born again believers have many different occupations, jobs, professions, domestic responsibilities, recreational activities, hobbies, and secular interests. God uses THESE differences in order to place His ambassadors WHERE he/she can serve the spiritual interests of the people with whom he/she interacts while engaged in THESE activities/locations.
In many cases, not all, but much of what appears or is mentioned in a death notices or eulogy will all go up in smoke at the Evaluation of Deeds event scheduled to take place in Heaven (1Cor. 3: 12-15). It will only be production of divine good that one produced while engaged in such activities that is going to matter then.
In closing, keep in mind that discipleship is a 24 – 7 lifestyle. Initially, discipleship is for the development of one’s own edified soul structure, with the long term objective of serving the spiritual interests of others. As (if) one progresses in the post salvation spiritual life, there will be more and more opportunities to minister to the spiritual needs of others. This is the primary reason that a born again believer remains on this Earth after having been born again and having become Heaven bound.
Discipleship takes the investment of time, in order to prepare ourselves, hold our ground, and advance in the post salvation spiritual life. If one is not progressing, he/she is regressing, no matter how "religious" he/she may be.
We all spend 24 hrs. each day. Rather or not the spent time is wasted or invested (from the eternal perspective) is best evaluated by what (if any) divine good has been produced by the end of the day.