No, there was no "typo" in the title of this presentation. As in the case of many English words, "forever" can have more than one meaning. This opens the door for the need of advancing disciples to discern which meaning is in view when interpreting and/or applying a passage of Scripture containing the word, "forever." The English word "forever" can be an adverb, describing a state of being, or an adjective describing a noun (a person, place, or thing). It can refer to something that is permanent (that never changes). It can refer to something that is continuous and/or without interruption, but not necessarily permanent. Unlike the clarity provided for us in the original languages of Scripture, the ambiguous nature of the English language sets the stage for one to easily misinterpret and thereby misapply what the English translations of Scripture may appear to otherwise be communicating. There are many such examples, but the two most popular classical examples of this concept is the usage of the word "kill" and "love." It is not within the power of human beings to kill a soul, be it his own or the soul of another (Matt. 10:28). When God allows it, it is within the power of human beings to kill the physical/biological life of the body, be it his own or the life of another. Scripture does not teach that taking the life of another human being by a human being(s) is always a sin. Scripture, in fact, states that there is a time to kill (Eccl. 3: 3, 8). There are things that the omnipotent God can NOT do. God can NOT do, or command (Lev. 24: 17) someone else acting under His authority, to do anything contrary to His own character and nature, or what could be rightly labelled sin. Here in 2017, many would be amazed to take note of the types of sin that, according to Scripture, one could receive the death penalty for in the ancient world. Never the less, before one could be convicted (and put to death) for a capital offense, there had to be a least two eye witnesses to the actual event (Numbers 35: 30). Cities of refuge were established in the ancient world where one could seek refuge (from those seeking revenge) until a hearing could take place to determine if the taking of a life was an act of murder, an accident, accidental, or justifiable homicide (e.g. self-defense). Note that not being subjected to criminal prosecution or civil liability for one's actions, does not prevent God from imposing divine discipline (Heb. 12: 6/Acts 5). At the same time, there are other activities that involve the taking of human life that were/are endorsed by Scripture for both the Old Testament and New Testament (Church Age) dispensations. Some groups of Christians do not believe that participating in warfare in the Christian thing to do, but have no qualms about enjoying the benefits provided by those who do/did the "dirtly work" for them. While m-u-r-d-e-r (See Exodus 20: 13 in the NASB translation) IS always a sin, the taking of human life accidentally (Numb. 35: 15), in warfare (Numbers 31: 3/Eccl. 3: 8/Psalms 144: 1), in self defense (Exodus 22: 2), or in the carrying out of capital punishment (Lev. 24: 17/Romans 13: 4) in an official capacity is NOT a sin. All murders involve killing, but not all killing is murder. * * * The English Word "love" appears throughout Scripture, but the English translations of Scripture fail to distinguish what TYPE of "love" is in view. Such distinctions are made clear in the original languages. There are as many definitions of what "love" is as there are types, but all types of love can be evaluated by where the object of love is placed on the list of one's priorities (Luke 10: 27/John 14: 23, 24/ Luke 14: 26). Discipleship demands that some things are to be "loved" less (given greater priority) than others (Luke 14: 26). Love for God, and or the things of God, is demonstrated by obedience. "... IF anyone loves Me, he will keep (receive and obey) My words...(John 14: 23 NASB)." Love can be evaluated by taking note to what extent one is willing to sacrifice one's own agenda to accommodate the object of one's love. "What's in it for me?" has got nothing to do with love, other than the love that one has for oneself. For many, the phrase, "I love you" really means, "I love what you can do for me!". The object of one's love can be God, a person(s), a thing, OR oneself! Yes, many people love themselves much more than they love God, other people, other things. This is evidenced by the mental attitudes, priorities, and choices they make on a daily basis. Self-sacrifice when and where there is nothing to be gained for one self is a foreign concept to a selfish person. Selfishness can exist within the Christian Community when one's whole relationship with God is based on what God is going to do for them. Others do what they do in the Christian Community in fear of what an angry God might do to them if they don't. In neither scenario is the love of God in view. For the advancing disciple, his/her focus is on what God wants to do through oneself (John 15: 5), often with the spiritual well-being of others (1Cor. 12: 7) in view. Applying the wrong type of "love" can bring on pressure and raise issues that God never intended for a disciple to experiences. The classical examples are the commands to, "... love your enemies, do good to those wo hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you(Luke 6: 27, 28 NASB), and to forgive those who have offended oneself (with the forgiveness of God for oneself hanging in the balance (Matt. 6: 14, 15). Such requirements (for discipleship) do not come naturally to us, especially when the hurt is deep and personal. But the post salvation spiritual life is NOT about what we can do for God with our very limited human capability, but with the unlimited enabling power (John 15: 5) of God. For the advancing disciple, loving and forgiving one's enemies is not an option, it is a command. However, loving your enemies and forgiving those who hurt us does not mean one is to have the same emotional bond with one's enemies (or with those who have hurt us), as we have with whom he/she shares personal love. The love that we are to have for God differs from the type of love that we are to have in a sexual relationship with other humans. Our love for parents, siblings, offspring, and friends is not the same type of love we are to have for our spouse. The love we have for things is not the same as the love we have for people. Agape love is unconditional and stable, not easily offended, and always willing to immediately forgive, and always act in the best interest of others. Interpersonal live is VERY conditional, can change from love to hate in a heartbeat, and not naturally quick to forgive when offended or betrayed. 1 Cor. 13: 4-8 is often quoted at weddings, but Scripture is speaking of agape love, and not taking about personal love. Personal love can develop between atheists and unbelievers as well as among Christians. Personal love can develop in heterosexual relationships and in homosexual/lesbian relationships when the partners involved share the same sexual desires, be they good or evil. Inappropriate heterosexual and homosexual desires can be generated by the fallen nature in Man. The desires of the fallen nature manifests itself differently from one individual to another. There are those who are not at all tempted to engage in what the Bible labels as sexual sins of any kind, and there are those who go as far as making it a lifestyle. One person's areas of strength is another person's area of weakness, and visa versa. We all have areas of strength and areas of weakness. An area of strength is a category of sin that we, as an individual, find no temptation to engage. An area of weakness is a category of sin that we find the temptation very hard to resist. We all have at least one category of sin that can easily trip us up (Hebrews 12: 1). The type of sin that so easily entangles us differs from one individual to another, but the end result Romans 6: 23) of ANY sin is to experience one or more of the three types of death. Sin is ANY act of commission or omission that is contrary to the principles of Scripture. Experiencing spiritual death in the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20: 15) is end result of the sin of disbelief (John 3: 18) in the presentation of the Gospel Message. Temporal death is the end result of the sin of rejecting the production of divine good 1Cor. 3: 12-15) in the course of one's post salvation spiritual life. Such a believer is dead in the area of production. Such a believer remains saved, but forfeits rewards (1Cor. 3: 15). Physical death (Acts 5/1Cor. 11: 30) can be the end result of divine discipline (Heb. 12: 6). During each day, we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3: 23), putting all of us in the same James 2: 10 stinking, sinking boat, and in the ongoing need to engage in the 1John 1: 9 process. ANY form of sin can become a chosen lifestyle. Sins that become a lifestyle need to be forsaken (John 8: 11), as well. In the administration of secular justice, there is the need to categorize the seriousness of crime, but not so in the realm of divine justice. In the eyes of God, sin is sin (James 2: 10). The one and only sin that is separate from all others is the sin of disbelief (John 3: 18) for which there is no forgiveness. This was not an oversight or any deficiency in the atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was by divine design that the sin of disbelief remain unpardonable. * * * Regarding all other forms of sin, human rationalization tends to justify one's own areas of weakness by pointing to the "greater" sins, in quality or quantity, of others. However, according to Scripture (James 2: 10), ANY violation of ANY of God's laws places the one involved in the same stinking, sinking, boat along side with every other sinner here on Earth. Because every one of us sin, none of us are in a position to judge or to evaluate anyone but ourselves (2Cor. 13: 5). Never the less, advancing disciples ARE in a position to be used of God to share the Gospel Message with unbelievers and to share edifying Scripture with fellow believers. This is not judging, but affords others the opportunity to make choices to avoid the wrath (Rev. 20:15) awaiting all unbelievers, and the divine discipline (Hebrews 12: 6) and loss of reward (1Cor. 3: 15) awaiting the undisciplined believer. The divine solutions to ANY type of post salvation sin is found in 1John 1: 9 and John 8: 11. * * * "Good" sexual desires, here, refers to the desire to engage in heterosexual intercourse with one' intended spouse, but the desire is not to become an activity before marriage, and only with one's spouse after the marriage takes place (Heb. 13: 4). It is part of being a human being to have sexual desires and attractions. Being tempted to sin does not mean one has sinned (Heb. 4: 15). The question raised in (Matt. 5: 28)is at what point does one cross the line from experiencing a normal attraction to engaging in the sin of mental adultery. "For I tell you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her in his heart (Matt. 5: 28 NASB)." This applies to women as well as men. According to Man's law, one is not accountable for what he thinks, but what he does. God's law also holds us accountable for the evil thoughts we entertain, as, "For as he thinks within himself, so he is...(Prov. 23: 7 NASB)." I believe that the thought becomes sin when, if given the opportunity, one would consider engaging in the sexual act, or when one fantasizes having such an experience. The wise believer will out the fire out BEFORE it reaches that point. "Evil" sexual desires involve the desire to engage in sexual activities that run contrary to the Word of God. Among them are the sins of entertaining lustful thoughts, heterosexual fornication (living together), adultery, homosexuality, lesbianism, bestiality, rape, inappropriate touching/fondling, and child molestation. Contrary to human viewpoint, ALL of these are equally (James 2: 10) sInful in the eyes of God (James 2: 10). Christian Marriage is a three-way partnership between God, a male husband, and a female wife, in which God and the Word of God has the final say in ALL that is and is not to take place between the man and the wife. Take the any one of the three partners (or thier roles) out of the mix, and it is no longer a "Christian" marriage in view. Alternative marriages and relatonships may (for a season - Heb. 11: 25) satisfy the desires of the fallen and independent SIN nature within us, but if not confessed (1John 1: 9) and forsaken (John 8: 11), there are consequences awaiting the unrepentant soul, be it here on Earth (Hebrews 12: 6) or in Heaven (1Cor. 3: 12-15). These consequences may take place during one's time here on Earth (Heb. 12:6), eternity 1Cor. 3: 12-15, or BOTH, but know that they ARE coming (Galatians 6: 7). I do not say this to judge anyone, but as a pastor-teacher, I can not afford to have God say to me, "You knew the truth, but did not share it with those who needed to hear it (Ezekiel 33: 6)." Don't tell me you have true love for anyone and then not be interested in their spiritual well-being and eternal destiny. Don't tell me you are an advancing disciple if you know the truth concerning any given spiritual issue, and are not willing to share it with ones you claim to love. Look at this way. If the whole were to be infected with a fatal virus, and there was someone who had knowledge and access to the one and only cure, what would you think of that person if he/she kept it to him/herself? Well, the entire human race, including oneself and everyone you "love" has been contaminated with a spiritually deadly condition. It is passed down to each generation at the moment of conception (Psalms 51: 5), rendering the incoming soul spiritually dead. Without the cure, every soul that has ever lived, is here on Earth now, or will be here on Earth in the future is destined to suffer spiritual death for all of etenity. If one has been born again, he/she has the cure (knowledge of the Gospel Message), and now has the opportunity, and I believe the moral obligation, to offer that cure to others. The devil is not happy about this, and is determined to do all that he can to insure that this does not happen by raising doubts and fears about losing personal relationships with family and friends if you take a spiritual stand with God on spiritual issues. Do you "love" others enough to risk your personal relationships with them in the interest of their spiritual well-being? Many "Christians" are not, and in this the devil is well pleased. If you are an advancing disciple, you also have access to the cures (appropriate answers) to address your own spiritual issues associated with the post salvation spiritual life, and the spiritual truths (Gospel Message/post salvation doctrine) that others need to hear. Rather or not you receive the cures and pass them along to others are choices you make, and decisions that each one of us will be held accountable as eery born again believer in the Church Age has been "commissioned (Matt. 28: 19, 20)" to do so. We are not all called to be or to function as pastor/teachers, but we are all called to be ambassadors for Christ (24-7), regardless of where we are or what we are otherwise doing. * * * Personal love can (and often is) governed by emotions, self-interests, and concepts that run contrary to what Christian Marriage was designed to be. When this is the case, personal love is promoted by the fallen nature (Romans 7) within us, as personal love can be experienced with others while being void of spirituality. When personal love is offended, and/or individual expectations/objectives are not satisfied or betrayed, the very worst in the one offended can quickly rise to the surface as personal love turns to personal hate. Many homicides and suicides have been the result of shattered personal love. Agape love is permanent, does not change, and is not conditional on circumstances. It is unnatural (Romans 8: 7) for fallen man to always function under the umbrella of agape love without the enabling (John 15: 5)power of God. Natural man, especially when functioning under the influence of his fallen nature, is inherently hostile towards the things of God. Agape love is a "thing" of God. 1Cor. 13: 4-8 , often cited during wedding ceremonies, is speaking of agape love. Note the difference between agape love and personal love: "(Agape) Love is always patient. (Personal love is often impatient when not getting its own way).(Agape) Love is always kind, is not jealous; (Agape) love does not brag, and is not arrogant, (Personal love can be brutally, dominating, jealous, and controlling, boasting, and prideful.) (Agape love) does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own (way); (Personal love can be very unbecoming and often seeks its own way.) (Agape love) does not take into account a wrong suffered; (Personal love often keeps a record of offenses and brings it to the attention of the offender when it suits its means.) (Agape love) does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with truth; (Personal love will compromise and even reject truth to please itself.) (Agape love) bears all things, endures all things. (Personal love bears some things, and endures some things.). (Agape) Love never fails...(Personal love often fails)...(1Cor. 13: 4-8 NASB italics mine)," The willingness and the ability (John 15: 5) to apply agape love when (not if) personal relationships hit a rough patch in the road is a choice that advancing disciples should make, but is not always the choice that we do make. Kill and love are just two examples of the ambiguous element that the English language brings into the realm of Biblical Theology that the advancing disciple will sooner or later have to address. I chose these two as examples as they concern issues that are all familiar, and highlights the need to be taught the Word of God in light of the original languages, and to know when and how the principles are to be applied. The original transcripts of Scripture were written in Hebrew, Greek, and a little Aramaic. ALL other versions are, at best, good translations. Many of the English versions of Scripture have gone through repeated revisions, making Scripture more easily understood, and/or securing a better translation of the original manuscripts that in the course of time (1,600 years) came to be what we in 2017 refer to as "The Bible". During the course of the Church Age, "religious" authorities have added to and/or deleted from the Canon of Scripture. When I refer to "The Bible", I am speaking of the 39 Old Testament and 27 New Testament "books" found in The Bibles within the so-called Protestant sector of the Christian Community. What became "The Bible" began to be composed around 1500 BC (some say the Book of Job is even older) and was completed in the approx. year 96 AD. Failing to take into consideration what the message was that the original (inspired - 2Tim. 3: 16) wording communicated can easily cause one to misinterpret and/or misapply what the Bible actually had to say in the time(s) that it was written, and what it is saying to us today. ALL of Scripture is for our edification and inspiration, but not all is necessarily for our a-p-p-l-i-c-a-t-i-o-n during the current dispensation of the Church Age. One of the primary functions of the pastor teachers in the Church Age is to study and accurately teach the Word of God for the development of post (after) salvation discipleship in the spiritual lives of born again believers. One's choice of his/her pastor teacher is as important to one's spiritual health is as important as one's choice of doctors is to one's physical health. Many "religious" organizations do not offer this option.
Salvation can take place at any time and in any place that God the Holy Spirit chooses. One is NEVER any more or any less SAVED then he/she became at the moment he/she chose to place his/her faith (trust, confidence) in a presentation of the Gospel Message. However, if one is to identify and execute God's individual plan that He has in mind for one's post salvation spiritual life, MUCH more will be required of him/her. What all born again believers have in common is that they have all received eternal life (John 3: 16, 18), and are equally assured of thier home in Heaven. What all born again believers do NOT have in common is that only the minority of born again believers will choose to identify, pursue, and remain in the post salvation life of discipleship. * * * When the English word "forever" is used in the English t-r-a-n-s-l-a-t-i-o-n-s of Scripture, it is important to be able to discern when the Bible is making reference to something that is permanent (that will never change); when it is conditional (subject to change); and when it is referring to something that is intended to remain in place without interruption, for a designated period of time. Let's look at some differing examples of where the English translators chose to make various usage of the English word "forever." * * * Perhaps the most significant "forever" issues that pertain to each and every one of us is that fact the Heaven (Psalms 23: 6 )or Hell (the Torments of Hades followed by the Lake of Fire - Rev. 20: 13, 15) are without end. We bury the body, if available, but the soul NEVER dies. There is no soul in a corpse. There is no soul in the bodily remains in ANY form (cremation/mumification) in any place (casket/funeral parlor/cemetery/ urn/ etc.). The soul enters the body simultaniously with the first breath of natural life entering the lungs (Gen. 2: 7), and departs after the lst breath has been taken (Gen. 25: 8, 17/Gen. 35: 29/ Luke 23: 46). God created the bodies of Adam and Eve, but th bodies of the generations of Man (except for the body of the Lord Jesu Christ -) were reproduced via the biological process that God established for that purpose that involves a male and a female human being. It is God, and not Man that creates and places the soul into the body at birth (Gen. 2: 7/John 3: 6). Every soul that has ever been created (John 3: 6) has e-v-e-r-l-a-s-t-i-n-g life that will NEVER come to an end. E-t-e-r-n-a-l life is the type of life that that soul must (John 3: 5, 7) receive in order to spend eternity with God. A home and conscious life with God in Heaven is guaranteed to all souls who choose to believe (place their full trust and confidence) in a presentation of the Gospel Message. The Rev. 20: 10, 15 "lake of fire" is NOT a place of termination. It is a place of never-ending conscious torment. What Heaven and the lake of fire have in common is that both will endure forever (without end). What the souls in Heaven have in common is the fact that they all were born again. What the souls who find themselves in the lake of fire have in common is that they all chose to disbelieve (John 3: 18). Just as the Bible assures all believers of Heaven, the same Bible assures the unbeliever of spending all of eternity future in the lake of fire. In these passages, the word/principle forever means to never come to an end. Life after death is NOT a matter of if, but of where and how all of never-ending eternity IS gong to be experienced. There are only two roads of life; not three, four, or more. The "on ramp" for this one road to heaven is found in the Gospel Message. God desires that all men choose this road (1Timothy 2: 4), but His Word also teaches that many (the majority) will not (Matt. 7: 14), and as a result, will suffer the eternal consequences (Rev. 20: 13, 15). The other road, promoted by human viewpoint and Man-made religion ultimately takes the ones upon it to the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 13, 15). The question that each one of us must answer is on which of the two roads have I chosen?". According to Scripture, there is NOTHING that can take place on Earth, inside or outside of a local assembly, and there is NOTHING that will take place in Heaven that will change the ultimate location or the accompanying environment of a soul once he/she has departed at the split second of physical death. Man, through "religion" and "cultural" traditions have engineered many practices with hope of benefiting the dearly departed soul, but NONE of them can be substantiated by Scripture. Scripture, such as John 3: 18, make it clear that the where issue of where one will spend eternity is/was resolved during one's lifetime here on Earth by one's chosen response to the Gospel Message. The how issue (for the born again believer) that eternity will be experienced (with or without reward) is determined by the production (1Cor. 3: 12-15) of divine good throughout the course of one's post salvation spiritual life. Until one is born again, he/she is spiritually dead, no matter how otherwise "religious," "moral," or "successful one may be. Until one is born again, he/she does not have eternal life or a post (after) salvation spiriutual life. * * * In Gen. 3: 22 (NASB) we read, "...less he stretches out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever...". One of the consequences of the Fall of Man, was that Man was driven out of the Garden of Eden. From that point on, Man was denied access to the means (the tree of life) to physically live "forever." here on Earth. The reality of one's inevitable departure from this Earth is one of the many reasons that the wise soul will pursue the means to secure an eternity with God BEFORE leaving this planet. The devil, primarily through "religion," relatively "good" behavior, and humanitarian deeds, offers many false, alternative, means to secure salvation. As popular and appealing (Luke 16: 15) that these things are to Man, they will NOT save anyone. Almost everyone will go through (or be put through) some form(s) of "religious" rituals and programs. Atheists can (and often do) choose to engage in relatively good conduct and choose to engage in great humanitarian projects for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with God. If one could earn salvation through such things as "religious" rituals, programs, relatively good human conduct, or participating in humanitarian projects, then for what reason did the Son of God (the Lord Jesus Christ) take on human form and suffer on the cross? "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me (John 14: 6 NASB)." One comes to God the Father "through Him" by believing (John 3: 18), that is to place his/her trust and confidence in a presentation of the Gospel Message. There is no other means to obtain or to retain eternal life. As long as there remained the means to sustain one's life span here on Earth, the focus of Man would be on the here and now, but with one's departure now a certainty, God and the things of God become much more important. After Man was banished from the Garden, this tree was guarded by cherubim with the weaponry to destroy anyone who tried to approach the tree (Gen. 3: 24). There is no Biblical record of anyone making such an attempt. Cherubs or cherubim are powerful spiritual beings. Some consider them to be among the ranks of angels. Others identify cherubs as being a distinct and separare species. In this regard, I favor the position that they are a specif classification of angels within the angelic realm. In any case, they were created to serve a divine purpose. Satan, prior to his rebellion, was an annointed cherub (Ezekiel 28: 14), serving in the throneroom of God. It was there that the devil coveted the glory and the worship that God received. It was the devil's desire to be worshiped as God was that was behind his failed attempt to rebel and to establish his own independent kingdom (Isa. 14: 13, 14). It is apparent (Gen. 3: 22) that until the Fall, Man had the potential, short of some outside force or trauma, to sustain his natural body and live forever here on the Earth by ingesting the produce of the tree of life in the Garden. As a result of the Fall, Man lost the means to potentially live (physically) forever (permanently) on the Earth. The biological impact that this loss had on the life span of the average human being took an extended period of time to manifest itself. The first generations of Man lived close to 1,000 years (Gen. 5), where as by the time of David (approx. 1,000 year BC), the average life span had become 70 years (Psalms 90: 10). In the times in which we now live, humans (in well developed nations) can live well into their 80"s. Note, however, that these verses in Genesis and Psalms rfelect the recorded averages taking place in the periods of history in which these passges were written. On an individual level, one can accomplish the will of God and be called Home during ANY stage during the course of the usual human life span and expeience. Some fulfil the divine purpose(s) and are called home infancy or childhood (2Sam. 12: 15, 19). John the Baptist accomplished the divine purpose for his life and was called Home around 30 years of age. The Lord Jesus Christ was approx, 33 when He was crucified. There are some things that we "accomplish" in the plan of God that we may be aware of, and there are things that we "accomplish" that we will never be aware of, at least during our time here on Earth. Even such things as war and disturbances play part in the Master Plan of God (Luke 21: 9). In every generation, there are those who depart much ealrier while there are others that live longer than the average life span of thier contemporaries. However, all of them depart in accordance with what God decrees or allows in order to accomplish His agenda. The death rate for the human being is 100%. Just as there was a day for us to enter the human experience here on Earth, we all have an assigned date of departure. By divine decree, whatever events of human history that took place before the day we are born were not for us to personally witness or take part. The same can be said of the events during human history that will take place after our personal departure. This is one of the classical examples of accepting His will over our own, be it things pertaining to ourselves or others. It is not how long one lives here on Earth, but what he/she did with the time that God assigned to him/her at the evaluation of deeds event that takes place in Heaven (1Cor. 3: 12-15). What was NOT lost (and remains "forever") is the life of the soul. We can bury and/or otherwsie dispose of the bodily remains, but NOT the soul. The life of the soul, once created by God (John 3: 6) NEVER dies. John 3: 6 makes a clear distinction between what is reproduced and provided for us by our biological parents, and what is created by God. Our biological parents reproduce what becomes our humanity at birth. Our biological parents may or may not have had a baby in mind when what would become our humanity was conceived, and later brought forth at birth. God, however, the Creator of the soul, has a specific plan for each and every soul He creates. His plan includes a specific starting date/time and departing date/time to be experienced here on Earth. Whatever took place before our birth was NOT to be a part of our individual experience, and neither is what will take place AFTER our individual departure. No one arrived here on Earth BEFORE the plan of God called for, and no one lives beyond the time frame that God determined. "Our times (of arrival and departure) are in His hands (Psalms 31: 15/Heb.9: 27). Nothing can take place unless God sends it or allows it to take place. See Doctrine of Sovereignty. Everything that God decrees, sends, or allows to take place ultimately serves a divine purpose. Accepting some of the things that God allows (Job 2: 10) can be either a challenge or an opportunity, depending on one's level of spiritual maturity. In the womb, test tube, or pertie dish, there IS a biological form of human life in the developing fetus as of the moment of conception forward. As the fetus develops, evidence of the biological life, such as movement can be felt, and such things as the heartbeat/rate can be detected and monitored with the assistance of medical technology. However, it is not until at the body takes in its first breath of natural life (Gen. 2: 7), that the soul with itd everlasting life that God created is placed in the body. At the moment of physical death, body is dies and begins its decomposing process (Gen. 3: 10), but the soul having departed the body, enters its spiritual destiny, based on the decisions (John 3: 18) that he/she made during the soul's time here on Earth. When it is a part of the master and individual plan of God, the soul can be sent back to the body (John 11: 3, 44/Mark5: 42, etc.), but in all such cases, there still comes a time when everyone's final departure takes place. The body (of believers) will be raised in resurrection form and reunited with the departed soul when Rapture takes place (1Thess 4: 16, 17). Whatever postmodem arrangements (if any) takes place concerning the bodily remains does not assist nor can they prevent God from doing what He has in mind for bodily remains of believers.(1THess. 4: 16, 17). This Biblical truth can be a source of great comfort to those left behind when the circumstances of the departure of a loved one does not provide his/her survivors with the opportunity to bury or otherwise dispose of bodily remains. Conscious life of the soul after departing the body is NOT a matter of if, but of WHERE and HOW that conscious life will be experienced for all of eternity. The type of death that Adam and the woman, later named Eve, incurred on the day they sinned was not physical, but spiritual (separation from a relationship with God). See Gen. 2: 17. In order for the soul to spend eternity with God, he/she must be born again (John 3: 5,7). In doing so, his/her spiritually dead status in changed with the regeneration (Titus 3: 5) of what was his/her dead spirit. The then "saved" soul is the recipient of eternal life (John 3: 16). This does NOT take place in Heaven, but during one's time here on Earth (John 3: 18). Here in the Church Age, one is born again (John 3: 5, 7) by choosing to b-e-l-i-e-v-e in a presentation of the Gospel Message. To b-e-l-i-e-v-e means to place one's fll trust and confidence in the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a rare thing in the day and age in which we are living for someone to have not have had the opportunity to hear and to repsond to a presentation of the Gospel Message. I believe for those who do fall into this category, such as souls that do not live long enough to reach the age/stage of moral accountability (2Sam 12: 23), are judged on the basis of what informatio they DID receive, beginning with the concept of eternity that God places in EVERY soul that He creates (Eccl. 3: 11). If you have never been given presented with the Gospel Message and the accompanying opportunty to be born again, you just were by choosing to click on the Gospel Message link. Being presented with the Gospel Messge or with the opportunity to do so is serious business. Anyone after been given such an opportunity, is without excuse if he/she finds him/herself among the condemned unbelievers at the Rev. 20: 15 event. * * * Once born again, the believer then has the opportunity to identify and a daily choice to execute the post salvation spiritual life of discipleshp. The primary consequence for rejecting the Gospel Message (or the opportunity to do hear it) is to remain in the same spiritual death scenario in which one came into this world. Here in the Church Age,rejection of the Gospel Message (or the opportuity to hear/read it) sets the stage for being among those who in the course of time will find themselves in the Torments of Hades (Rev. 20: 13) upon departing this world, and later being tossed into the lake of fire (Rev.20:15) f-o-r-e-v-e-r! Forever, in this passage, means without ever coming to an end. Contrary to what is commonly accepted by human viewpoint and some "religious" groups, the devil and much of his Eph. 6: 12 forces of evil, are NOT in Hell waiting for all the "bad" people to join him. There are some evil species presently incarcerated in a section of Hades for having violated the parameters of spiritual combat (Jude 4). Their eventual "home" will be the lake of fire. The Torments of Hades remains to be the present location of all departed souls that left this world in the capacity of an unbeliever. Until the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ took place, the Paradise (Luke 23: 43) section of Hades was where the departed souls of the believers went. As of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no longer any souls in the Paradise section of Hades. All Old Testament and Church Age souls (2Cor. 5: 8) of departed believers are presently in Heaven with God in interim bodies (2Cor. 5: 1), awaiting such future events as the Rapture (1Thess. 5: 16, 17). The Torments section of Hades continues to be filled with the souls of departed unbelievers. This will continue to take place until the Rev. 20: 13, 15 takes place when the "residents" of the Tormentns of Hades are brought to the Court of Heaven and cast into the lake of fire f-o-r-e-v-e-r. It is during the future events outlined in Rev. Chapter 20 that the lake of fire will become the permanent residence of the devil, the false prophet, and fallen angels, and the human souls of all unbelievers. "The devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (Rev. 20:10 NASB)." "And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds (Rev. 20: 13 NASB." "And if anyone's name was not found in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15 NASB)." Note that NONE of the deeds (religious rituals/good behavior/humanitarian works) offered as justification, excuse, or defense at the Rev. 20: 13 judgment saved anyone whose name was not found in the book of life that contains the names of all born again believers. The forever characteristic of the lake of fire is permanent, without there ever being the means of escape, receive pardon, or release. The lake of fire was prepared for the devil and the fallen angels (Matt. 25: 41), but will also be the permanent residence of all human souls who depart this world in the capacity of an unbeliever (Rev. 20: 15). Man made religion, Man made traditions, and some other schools of throught contend that that location and/or environment that the departed soul begins to experience upon departing the body can be altered and/or improved through the efforts of those left behind. Scripture offers no such opportunity. In fact, Scripture clearly warns that the location and environment into which the soul enters at the moment of physical death is determined by the choices that the soul made (past tense)while here in the body on Earth (John 3: 18). In past dispensation, the souls were judged on the basis of each one's chosen response to the extent that God had revealed Himself to Man as of that time. Here in the Cuurch Age, the issue of WHERE is forever (permanently) established by the choice one makes to either believe or to reject the Gospel Message. For the born again believer, the issue of HOW (with or without reward) is determined by the daily choices he/she makes to either entertain, neglect, or to reject the divine purpose of his/her post salvation spiritual life. * * * From the very beginning (Gal. 3) there has been false gospels, false leaders, false teachers, and false doctrines promoted in the name (authority) of religion, often with the aid of the political establishment. Such unholy alliances have brought the Church to and though some of its most infamous periods of its history. The prophesied (1Timothy 4: 1) period of great apostasy WITHIN the Christian Community at large has become an experiential reality in the times in which we live. With the blind leading the blind, many areas of the "Church" promote false Gospel messages, false post (after)salvation doctrine, practice false rituals, and have adopted agendas inconsistent with the mission (Matt. 28: 19, 20) ) that it was commissioned to fulfill. Just how serious is the issue of false gospels, false doctrine, false practices, and alternative agendas? Just a little leaven leavens the whole lump (Galatians 5: 9). Just as the understanding of one truth can have a positive (Matt. 13: 33) and extended impact, a false teaching/practice can have a negative impact. One false doctrine (Matt. 16: 12) and/or practice (Matt. 15: 9) provides the devil with a foothold (Acts 17: 11) from which he can launch missiles of destruction that can compromise the integrity of the entire structure or organization. The ability to distinguish what is spiritual from what is religious is an important element of discipleship. The damage that compromising with the principles of Scripture can take place in one's individual soul structure (Matt. 7: 24-27) or in a group of believers as small as a local assembly or as large as one of the many Man-made denominations within the Christian Community at large. Failing to acquire a clear understanding of the Gospel Message, for example, is what leads to accepting all the "religious" additives in order to obtain or retain salvation. Such additives are not only unnecessary, but amount to an attack on the integrity of the atoning Work that the Lord Jesus Christ "finished - John 19: 30 NASB)" on the cross. Once a false doctrine and its accompanying rituals are practiced long enough, they become among the things that are highly esteemed by Man, but are never the less detestable in the eyes of God (Luke 16: 15). The end result is that there are many who think they are headed for Heaven who have never been born again, and there are many born again believers who have no clue as to what the post salvation spiritual life is all about. In Gen. 6: 3 (NASB) we read, "My Spirit will not strive with Man forever....". This Old Testament concept is reiterated in New Testament Scripture (2Cor. 6: 2/Heb. 3: 15). The opportunity to repent (change one's mind for the better) is not on the table "forever." We come into this world with a fallen nature passed down to us at the moment of conception (Psalms 51: 5). This fallen nature is not merely disinterested, but actually hostile towards God and the things of God (Romans 8: 7). Salvation and the post salvation spiritual lifeare among "the things" of God. While being hostile towards God and the things of God, our fallen nature is receptive to all the (religious/good deeds/human viewpoint)) false alternatives that the devil promotes. The hostility of this nature often comes to the surface when one is advised that he/she is on the wrong road (Matt. 7: 13, 14. This reaction can come from those who have been deceived in the religious realm just as much as from those who are involved in overt sin. When unable to refute the divine message, they will attack the human messenger (Matt. 7:6). When presented with the Gospel Message (or the opportunity to be presented with it), we make a conscious choice, one way or the other (John 3: 18). There is no neutrality in the spiritual realm. One either believers or disbelieves. Anything short of placing one's full confidence and trust in the Gospel Message is to reject it. Rejection of the Gospel Message (John 3: 18) results in the Rev. 20: 15 consequences If one truly believes (places his full confidence and trust) in a spiritual principle, there will be the desire to make whatever adjustments that are called for to apply the truth(s). When one truly believes in the Gospel Message, he will reject ALL other proposed means of obtaining or retaining salvation. When one truly believes in a principle of post (after) salvation doctrine, he will have at least the desire to make the accompanying adjustments it takes to become and more conformed to the likeness of Christ (Romans 3: 28). These adjustments are going to separate oneself from both the "religious" and the worldly minded members of the human race. This is the price of discipleship that many (Matt. 7: 13, 14) born again believers are unwilling to pay. After (If) we are born again, when are then given the opportunity to identify the post salvation spiritual life, we again, make a conscious choice to pursue it or not. After (if) identifying the post salvation spiritual life, we make a daily choice (or not) to engage in it. The opportunity to engage in the post salvation spiritual life is NOT offered to those who have not been first born again. There came a time when God had enough of what was going on in the ancient world and a day of judgment came due. We all have an appointed time when each one of us will depart this world and a day of judgment (Rev. 20: 15 for the unbeliever and an evaluation of deeds (1Cor. 3: 12-15)3: 12-15) for the believer follows. Every one of us will depart either in the capacity of a spiritually dead unbeliever, or as a spiritually alive born again believer. There is no third category. Residency in Heaven or Hell is SELF determined by the choice we make concerning the Gospel Message while here on Earth (John 3: 18). Rewards or no rewards (in Heaven) for departed believers is determined by the daily choices we make during the course of our post salvation spiritual life while here on Earth (1Cor. 3: 12-15). The devil, primarily in the name of religion, has a whole warehouse full of alternatives that will make sense to the fallen nature in us, but will produce NOTHING in the spiritual realm. The window of opportunity to hear and to respond to the Gospel Message opens when we reach the age or stage of moral accountability, and closes the moment we depart. The spiritual status of those who do/did not have the opportunity to hear, understand, and make a conscious decision concerning the Gospel Message has already been addressed previously in this presentation. It is not up to us to decide, when in the course of this window of opportunity, that we are going to be saved. We come become "religious" at any time we choose, but we can only be saved in response to the calling and enabling power of God the Holy Spirit. Every time an unbeliever says, "No!" to either the Gospel Message or an opportunity to have it presented to him/her, his/he heart becomes harder more resistant to it. No unbeliever knows when he/she has received his/her last opportunity to respond to the Gospel Message before departing this Earth. Death bed conversions do take place, but there is no guarantee that an unbeliever will be given that opportunity. Tens of thousands of souls leave this Earth each and every day, with death being the last thing that was on their minds when they got out of bed that day. Likewise, a born again believer never knows when he/she has received his/her last daily opportunity to identify and/or to execute the true post salvation spiritual life. Once identified, we choose each day to either engage in it or to pursue an alternative agenda. * * * ======= In closing, note that there were many things that were a part of past dispensations, are a part of present Church Age dispensation, and will be a part of future dispensations to come. Bringing back activity and practices of past dispensations (Gal. 3), or bringing what is intended to be a part of future dispensations (Rev. 20: 6), accomplishes NOTHING in the Church Age in which we are living. In fact, such things and can serve as great distractions and be counterproductive to the actual mission and plan that God has for the Church Age. ALL of Scripture is for our edification, but not all of Scripture was designed to be applied to the dispensation of the Church Age in which we are now living. "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away UNTIL all is accomplished (Matt. 5: 18 NASB)." The Work of Salvation was accomplished and "finished -John 19: 30) ON THE CROSS. The last tangible "altar" of sacrifice that God acknowledged was the Roman cross on which the final "sacrifice- Heb. 9: 25-28) was offered up. Misguided, premature (Rev. 20: 6) attempts, (such the Christian Crusades to occupy Jerusalem and the 30 years war to dominate Vatican control of Europe, are classical examples of attempting to apply Scripture to the Church Age that is intended for a future dispensation. Many "religious"teachings and practices WITHIN various parts of the Christian Community can be placed in the Luke 16: 15 category. "...You are those justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God (Luke 16: 15 NASB). Anything, be it in the form of doctrine or ritual, that attempts to add to believing in the atoning Work on the cross to either obtain or retain salvation is an abomination in the eyes of God. In context, Luke 16: 15 was directed to the Jews during the days when Christ walked among us in the flesh, but the principle applies to all dispensations. If all of the products, personnel, and practices of religion were to be removed, what many consider to be "Church" would barely be recognizable. All legitimate activity for each dispensation can be substantiated by an accurate interpretation and application of Scripture. Holy structures, officiating priests, tangible altars, and sacrifices WERE (past tense) legitimate during the Old Testament dispensation for the people of God. Such things still hold a significant place/role in the "religious" realm, but one must not confuse the Man-made products and practices of religion with spirituality. Hell will be filled with spiritually dead souls who chose to put their trust and confidence in the various "religions" that have been developed inside and outside of the Christian Community. "But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith (accurate doctrine), paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons (1Tim 4: 1 NASB italics mine.)" "For all the gods of the peoples (of the world) are idols (Psalms 96: 5 NASB italics mine)." Failing to make such distinctions has led to many false practices and agendas within the Christian Community of the Church Age. The primary mission that the Lord Jesus Christ gave to the Church that He designed is recorded in what is commonly referred to as the Great Commission (Matt. 28: 19, 20). This mission involves the preservation and proclamation of the true Gospel Message for the salvation of unbelievers, and for the teaching and application of accurate Bible Doctrine for the development of post (after) salvation discipleship among those who have already been born again. Developing an understanding of what is f-o-r-e-v-e-r in the "permanent", "conditional", or " not interrupted" mode is a critical area of Biblical discipleship.
Just because the world at large is going down the toilet doesn't mean that we have to go with the flow!