Continued from FAQ page...
In most cases, we "shake hands with the devil" in order to satisfy an immediate desire of the fallen nature within us (Romans 7). Obviously, these desires can consist of overt sin, but they can also consist of things that are not necessarily evil in of themselves, but are not a part of the present plan of God for the individual involved.
"To "shake hands" simply means to make a deal. A deal, for the purposes of this article, refers to a contract or a binding agreement in which two parties agree to specified terms of the deal that provide different, but mutual gain.
For example, Party A agrees to pay Party B a sum of money in exchange for goods and/or services. Party A receives the money and Party B receives the goods or services. A breach of contract occurs when one party reneges, that is failing to fulfill his end of the bargain as was defined in the agreement. In the secular world, a breach of contract subjects the reneging party to liability for damages.
When the covenant is between God and Man, it is always the born again, human partner that reneges (2Timothy 2: 13). In the spiritual realm, the reneging human partner is subject to divine discipline (Hebrews 12:6), but NEVER the loss of salvation. God ALWAYS lives up to HIs end of ANY covenant that He entertains.
Everyone, be it God, the devil, ourselves, or other people has an agenda. Everyone does what wthey do (or refrain from doing) in order to further that agenda. Our interest in everyone, and everyone's interest in us is often based on what we or they hope to gain through the relationship. When the relationship fails to produce what we desired from it, or worse brings unwanted elements into our environment, we quickly lose interest. Live in the elusion of deception if you like, but we ARE (in our fallen nature) self-centered, self-seeking beings.
If you really want to "know" about God, the devil, ourselves, organizations, or other people, learn of their agenda! Once you have a clear understanding of their agenda, ALL that they do and when they do it will make perfect sense!
Scripture documents several covenants that have been established involving God, individuals, and groups of individuals throughout the course of human history. Although God will impose divine discipline when spiritual covenants are breached, He always remains faithful to His end of the
covenants that He has entered into with Man. In His timing, ways, and means, all of the divine covenants will be fulfilled on the divine end.
The "new covenant (1Cor. 11: 25) NASB)" that God made with Man addresses Man's spiritual salvation. This new covenant was announced on the night preceding the crucifixion (1Cor. 11: 23), and was activated via the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ ON the cross the following morning.
"This is the cup of the new covenant in (activated via)
My blood (1Cor. 11: 25)."
"It ( it = His atoning Work that He accomplished on the cross) is finished (John 19: 30) NASB."
The cup of 1Cor. 11:25 was formerly one of several cups of wine that were a part of the Passover Meal ritual that the Lord and His disciples were celebrating in the upper room when the new covenant was introduced. The Passover Meal was celebrated by the ancient Jews commemorating the liberation from the bondage of Egyptian slavery. What we now refer to as Communion or The Lord's Supper was (and remains to be) the ONE and ONLY repetitive ritual that Church Age believers are commanded to participate in on a regular basis. The purpose of this ritual is NOT to reproduce and to ingest the literal flesh and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, but to bring into our conscious minds ALL that the bread (our Lord's humanity) and the wine (the work that He accomplished while shedding His blood) r-e-p-r-e-s-e-n-t-s .
Whenever NEW testament Scripture speaks of the blood of the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is referring not only to the physical blood that our Lord shed during events leading up to and while on the cross, but of His atoning Work (Work=spiritual death (separation from God the Father) that was simultaneously taking place while physically alive and shedding His blood on the cross.
We are correct when we say that the Lord Jesus Christ died to atone for our sins (1John 2:2), but He endured TWO types of death with two divine objectives in mind. The atoning death that He endured was spiritual in nature. This spiritual death took place and was "finished John 19:30)" before He died physically. His physical death, His and ours, involves the departing of the soul from the natural body . This is necessary in order to enter into the next bodily form that is called for in the plan of God. If He had not gone through the spiritual death phase on the cross in OUR place, there would have been no atoning work accomplished, and the entire human race would still be headed for the lake of fire that STILL awaits the souls of all unbelievers. In fulfillment of Scripture, our Lord certainly DID shed His blood in the capacity of the Lamb of God, but when New Testament Scripture speaks of His blood, it is speaking of ALL that He accomplished while He was shedding His blood.
The shedding of the blood of the Old Testament Lamb of God was literal, but symbolic of what (the means of salvation) would be accomplished ONCE AND FOR ALL, when the Lamb of God of the New Testament shed His literal blood on the cross. In both the Old Testament sacrifices (plural) and the New Testament sacrifice (singular), it was what was taking place in the unseen spiritual realm that mattered and matters to God.
The fact that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (being still physically alive on the cross) who announced that His atoning Work was a-l-r-e-a-d-y f-i-n-i-s-h-e-d (John 19: 30) before He dismissed HIs spirit into the hands of God the Father (Matt. 27: 50/ John 19: 30) is clear evidence that it was the spiritual death (separation from God the Father) that was His atoning Work that paid the world's sin debt.
This is not to diminish the physical suffering and the significance of shedding of HIs physical blood as the Lamb of God, all of which was in fulfillment of the messianic prophecies. At the same time, if it were HIs physical death that He endured in our place, then we would no longer have to physically die. It is His spiritual death that He endured ON the cross in OUR place that replaces the spiritual death that we would have otherwise had to endure in the lake of fire for all of eternity!
It is this overlooking of the spiritual death that took place ON the cross that has led to many false teachings and practices concerning the TRUE divine purpose and procedure for celebrating the Lord's Supper aka Communion. For a detailed explanation of this important issue, and the opportunity to celebrate it as outlined in Scripture, go to the celebration of the Lord's Supper link on this website.
It was NOT until the period of spiritual death was completed that He physically died. Note the past tense of the verb finished. When He uttered these words, He had not yet physically died, yet His atoning Work was finished. Although the physical and mental pain and suffering that is associated with crucifixion is without a doubt one of the most painful and lingering forms of capital punishment to be developed in the course of human history, our Lord's greatest suffering was during this period of spiritual death, being separated from God the Father, .as the sins of ALL humanity was placed on Him in our behalf.
When we have a true understanding of the Gospel, we will have the "...mind of Christ (1Cor. 2: 16 NASB) concerning the enormity of our own individual sin. Now multiply that condemning feeling times the total population of every human soul (past, present, and future) and we can BEGIN to comprehend what He experienced during those hours of spiritual death on the cross when God the plan of God Father imputed the sin debt of the whole world on our Lord's agonizing humanity.
Now add to that the fact that this was the only time in all of time and eternity that sin was every placed on Him, resulting in spiritual death (separation between the Humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father).
The human side of the covenant was (and remains to be) in placing faith in God's plan of salvation by believing in the Person (who He is) and the Work (that HE accomplished on the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only
begotten Son, that whoever b-e-l-i-e-v-e-s in
Him shall not perish (spend all of eternity in the
lake of fire), but have eternal life (16).
Those (and ONLY those) who b-e-l-i-e-v-e enter into the "New Covenant" and become the recipients of all of the benefits that the divine end of the contract contain.
He who b-e-l-i-e-v-e-s in Him is not judged (as
all unbelievers will be - Rev. 20: 20-13-15); "
Those who do not believe do NOT enter into the covenant and will NOT be the recipients of its benefits:
"... he who does not b-e-l-i-e-v-e has been judged (self-condemned)
already, because he has not b-e-l-i-e-v-e-d in the
name (all that the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ
entails) of the only begotten (manifested via the Work of God - Luke 1:35)
Son of God (18).
In the secular world, many times the contract contains a "remains in force" clause that declares how long the contract is to remain binding on all parties. This is quite common for contracts concerning labor unions and the like. When such clauses are in place, a new contract must be then be negotiated.
As noted earlier, divine covenants do not come to an end until ALL of the divine promises are fulfilled. This an important principle to comprehend.
There is, for instance, a 1,000 year global reign of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rev. 20: 6) of a kingdom that will be headquartered in Jerusalem, Israel. This will take place before this world, as we know it to be today, is totally vaporized (2Pter. 3:10) and a new heaven and earth Rev. 21: 1) are established.
"The day of the Lord will come (unexpectedly) like a thief,
in which the heavens (stars/planets) will pass away with a
roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat,
and earth and its works will be burned up (2Pet. 3: 10 NASB/italics mine)."
"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven
and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea."
(Rev. 2:1 NASB)."
At the same time, this does not mean that there aren't going to be large scale disasters as revealed in End Time prophecies, or that our own personal date of departure couldn't be today, if today turns out to be the appointed day of our personal departure regardless of where the human race, as a whole, is at in the time line of God's Master Plan!
Our own individual time of departure, or the Rapture (1Thess. 4: ) could take before the next beat of our heart!
This divine fulfillment of ALL covenants also it means that ANYTHING that God has promised (e.g. John 3: 16) concerning eternal issues will not fail to materialize!
Salvation, for example, is an unmeritorious (Eph. 2:8) gift from God that He gives to every soul that makes a ONE TIME decision to BELIEVE in a presentation of the TRUE Gospel Message, resulting in receiving, among other things, the ETERNAL LIFE (John 3: 16, 18) of God and a regenerated human spirit (Titus 3: 5).
"For by (underserved) grace you (born again believers) have been
saved through faith (believing); and NOT of yourselves (anything we
did or refrained from doing), it (salvation) is the gift of God (Eph. 2: 8 NASB/italics mine).
"For the gifts and the calling of God are i-r-r-e-v-o-c-a-b-l-e (Romans 11: 29 NASB)."
It is important to note that it is at the moment of salvation, here on Earth, that the believer becomes the recipient of eternal life, having then and there, "... passed (past tense) out of (spiritual) death into (eternal) life (John 5: 24)." Eternal life is not something that we receive upon departing this Earth, but a continuation of the eternal life we received at the moment we first believed.
What differs greatly among believers is how we experience that eternal life in our walk with God here in the devil's world. To our shame, there is little or no overt difference in the lifestyles, attitudes, and opinions of Church Age believers who do not, "...continue in My word (John 8:31 NASB)." and the lifestyles, attitudes and opinions of many of our unbelieving counterparts, here in the devil's world! Atheists and non-Christians can have close knit families, successful careers, and live what most people would consider traditionally moral lifestyles for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with spirituality.
Doctrinal ignorance is a choice that one makes. Born again believers learn soon enough that it is much easier to simply touch all the bases of religion that it is to learn of and engage is the TRUE post salvation spiritual life of discipleship.
Having first been deceived and later victims of their own arrogance, believers who do not c-o-n-t-i-n-u-e (John 8:31) to grow in God's grace and knowledge (2Peter 3: 18) are vulnerable to come to believe that it was something they (as opposed to God- John 19: 30/Romans 14:4) did, had done. are doing, or will do (or refrain from doing) that made or keeps them in relationship with God. Edified believers have no delusions about their own capabilities apart from God (John 15: 5).
"...apart from Me, you can do n-o-t-h-i-n-g (John 15: 5 NASB)."
"There is NOTHING that the devil can do to undo the Titus 3:5 regenerating work of God the Holy Spirit that took place at the moment of salvation, but there is MUCH that he can do interfere with the born again believer's identification and execution of the TRUE post salvation spiritual life.
When the devil i successful, God is denied the glory that the born again believer could have brought to God. As a result, there is divine discipline (Hebrew 12: 6) here on Earth, and loss of reward in Heaven, but never the loss of salvation (1Cor. 3: 15). The New Covenant remains intact, as does God's desire and promise to fulfill His end of the bargain!
Contrary to what the devil, primarily through the products of religion, would have us believe, ALL of the divine WORK to activate (1Cor. 11:25)this covenant to apply (Titus 3: 5) its benefits to each and every believing soul, and to sustain it (Romans 14:4) is the function of the divine partner(s).
ACTIVATION: "... the new covenant in My blood (1Cor. 11:25 NASB)".
APPLICATION: "... the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3: 5) NASB)'.
SUSTAINING: "... and he (the born again believer) will stand (remain being saved-1Cor. 3: 15) for the
LORD is able to make him stand (Romans 14: 4)."
The devil tried hard to stop this covenant from being established throughout the dispensations (periods of time) of the Old Testament and the earthy mission of the Lord Jesus Christ. Having failed to do so (John 19: 30), the devil has no other options that to try to raise doubts in the souls of unbelievers and believers alike concerning ALL that was accomplished and will be accomplished as a result of one placing his/her faith in the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The devil continues to garner considerable success by promoting false concepts that are designed to plant thoughts of doubt concerning what it really takes to be saved (encapsulated in John 3: 16. 18), and the integrity and security of the salvation that all "born again (John 3:3)" believers have received and can not lose. This in fact, is the devil's primary focus of attention in the midst of all the spiritual combat taking place here and now in the dispensation of the Church Age.
The reason that I began this study by focusing on the covenants of God is that BEFORE one can fall victim to the false, but very convincing "religious" alternatives" offered and promoted by Satan and his (Ephesians 6: 12/ 2 C0r 11: 14) forces of evil, the human soul must first choose to reject the concept of eternity that God places in the heart of every soul He creates (Eccl. 3: 11), and then God's plan of salvation that He has made known, and will make known, to ANY soul that truly wants to learn of it. IN the day and age in which we live, these false alternatives can be found inside (1TImothy 4: 1) and outside (Psalms 96: 5) of what we commonly acknowledge as sectors of the "Christian" Community.
INSIDE: "But the Spirit explicitly says that in the end times
some (believers) will fall away from the faith (true
doctrine), paying attention to deceitful spirits and
(false) doctrines of demons (1Tim. 4: 1 NASB/italics mine)."
OUTSDIDE;: "For ALL the gods of the peoples are idols....(Psalms 96: 5 NASB)."
The concept that Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhist, etc., etc., etc., worship the same God, but under a different name is one of the greatest lies to ever come out of the devil's mouth. It matters NOT (to the devil) what alternative anyone chooses, as long as one does not believe in the one true God and/or the one and only means to establish a relationship with Him.
" I (the Lord Jesus Christ speaking) am the way (to God), and the
truth, and the life; no one comes to (God) the Father but through Me."
(John 14: 6 NASB/italics mine).
"And there is no salvation in no one else; for there is no other name
(other than Jesus) under Heaven (here on Earth) that has been given (by God)
among men by which we (the human soul) must be saved ."
(Acts 4: 12 NASB/italics mine)".
The "religions" of the world (Psalms 96: 5) have produced several "gods" (small ":g") with each one having its own name. This is the natural course of action of the human soul who, one hand, acknowledge the reality of there being a "god" (Eccl. 3: 11), but not the TRUE God of Scripture. What distinguishes TRUE Christianity from the religions (including Christian "religion", is that religion is all about what the soul does to make and keep himself in favor of a god, whereas TRUE Christianity is about placing one's faith in what God had done for the human race to save it, and what God desires to do through Church Age believers HERE on Earth AFTER the issue of one's salvation has already been addressed.
Satan and the 2Cor. 11: 15 division of the Ephesians 6: 12 forces of evil do not dispute the existence of the one true God, but have produced WITHIN the "Christian" Community (1Timothy 4: 1), many counterfeit products of religion that have the appearance of pleasing God, but do not generate or sustain as much as a millisecond of eternal life.
Offers and deals from the devil seldom come directly from the devil, as they did when the humanity of our Lord was tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4/Luke 4).
The devil, prior to his rebellion, served in throne room of God in the capacity of a guardian cherub (Ezekiel 28: 14, and was no stranger to the Son of God. It would have served no purpose for the devil to have attempted to conceal his identity.
With few exceptions (John 13: 27), the devil almost always does his dirty work through a median (Genesis 3:1) or third party (John 8: 44/Ephesians 6: 12/2Cor. 11: 15). No one who has an understanding of the history and present objectives of the devil would knowingly shake hands with him. But when dealing with the fallen, hostile (Romans 8:7) nature in Man (Romans 7), or working through a "blind guide" who is in a position of trust and
who thinks he/she knows best, the human soul is VERY vulnerable and in a position to be greatly deceived!
One would not think that the spokesman behind the pulpit could be speaking for the devil, but Scripture (2Cor. 11: 15) says otherwise. One would not think that a parent is "evil" (evil = possessor and promoter of false doctrine), but Scripture (Matt. 7: 11) says otherwise. One would not think that his spiritual enemies are members of his own family, but Scripture (Matt. 10: 36) says otherwise.
Granted, the overwhelming majority of such persons (parents, pastors, friends) do NOT do what they do with malicious intent, but a bullet fired in ignorance can be just as lethal as one that IS fired with malicious intent! No one, behind a pulpit, at home, or out in the devil's world can be used of God to spiritually edify another soul beyond the point of spiritual maturity to which he/she has first attained for him/herself. As it has been said, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
In comparison, parents go to all extremes trying to guide and support the natural and secular issues that their children will face, but pass along their "good enough" attitude when it comes to spirituality.
Once we learn of the need for everyone to hear the Gospel, believers will have an immediate concern for the spiritual well-being of family and friends. Accordingly, we desire and would like to think that it is at home that we (as Christ's ambassadors) will have the greatest spiritual impact, but Scripture (Matt. 13: 57) says otherwise.
Disciples can (and should) lead the horse to water, but we cannot make it drink. We lead by example, and by making the best of all the opportunities that God gives us to evangelize unbelievers and to edify believers in our personal peripheries, but the exercising of one's free will remains to be a matter between each and every soul and his/her Creator.
EVERYONE has an agenda. God has one. The devil has one. People around us have one. We have one. EVERTHING that EVERYONE does or refrains from doing is in line with his/her agenda. If one does not establish his own agenda, he/she will spend his/her time contributing to the agenda of someone else. Idle hands provide the grounds for the devil to plant his seeds.
While NOT being true of all born again believers, the spiritually mature disciple's ONLY agenda is to seek and to do the will of God each and every day. Everyone (including one self) and everything else takes a back seat. For God's plan, there are counterplans of others (including self) that c0mpete for the number one slot on our personal list of priorities. It is NOT that we aren't to engage in temporal or secular activities, as it is while in the mist of such activities that we are called to function as Christ's ambassador. Where we get into trouble is when we allows such things to be given an inappropriate place on our list of priorities.
When being presented with a deal, the first filter that the proposed deal should be passed through is the filter of sin. If one of the conditions of the deal involves A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G that the BIBLE classifies as sin, then the answer is NO. Case closed; or be prepared to suffer the consequences (Hebrews 12:6/Gal. 6: 7)."
"For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines (Heb. 12: 6 NASB)."
"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows,
this he will also reap (Gal. 6: 7 NASB)."
If the deal is still on the table, having passed through the first filter, the next step is to pass it through the filter of progression. The status of the salvation of a born again believer can NEVER be any greater or any less than it was at the moment one was saved. This is what is known as positional sanctification, being sealed (marked for identification) as one who has been saved (past tense) and has forever settled the issue of spiritual death, and one who will arrive in Heaven at the appointed time, aka as the Day of Redemption (Eph. 4: 30).
"Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God. by Whom you (born again believers)
were (past tense) sealed (marked for identification) for the day of
redemption (Eph. 4: 30 NASB/italics mine)?"
There in NO power within us, around us, in Heaven or on Earth that can or will undo the sealing or regenerating work that God did on the day of salvation when the spiritually dead soul first believed and passed from spiritual death to spiritual life.
However, as far as the TRUE post (after) salvation spiritual life here on EARTH is concerned, EVERY born again believer, at ANY given time, is either advancing along the road to spiritual maturity and developing his/her post salvation spiritual life, or has taken an off ramp and is headed down another road, here in the devil's world.
The question that needs to be asked when new deals remain on the table after passing through the first filtration system, is if the new deal will result in one continuing along the road to spiritual maturity and enhance one's post salvation spiritual life, or will it result in taking an off ramp in order to entertain a counterplan that pleases self, others, or the devil himself.
Just as one cannot serve two masters (Matt. 6: 24), one cannot remain on the road to spiritual maturity and along the road of self-interests, or worse, along an ungodly road that the devil would have us on!
"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate (love less) one
and love (prefer) the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the
other. You cannot serve God and wealth (or anything/anyone else)."
(Matthew 6: 24 NASB/italics mine)."
God is NOT opposed to temporal prosperity (3John 1: 2), nor is He impressed with self-induced circumstances or situations of poverty).
"Beloved, I pray that in ALL respects you may
prosper and be in good health, just as your soul
prospers (3John 1: 2 NASB)."
What God DOES oppose is deals that provide temporal prosperity at the cost of remaining spiritually dead (John 3: 7) and/or at the cost of failing to identify and execute of one's post salvation spiritual life (Matthew 16: 26). Based on information that the devil receives via stealth observation conducted by some of the Ephesians 6: 12 forces of evil, he knows just what buttons to press and when to press them to launch an attack on our soul structures for maximum effect.
"Do not be amazed that I said, "You must be born
again (John 3: 7 NASB)."
In context, these word were spoken to Nicodemus by the Lord Jesus Christ, but they apply to each and every soul that God (John 6 b) creates and places into the body that man (John 3:6a) reproduces and brings forth at birth.
"For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole
world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give
in exchange for his soul (Matthew 16: 26 NASB)?"
For the most part, the "whole world" of Matt. 16: 26 is not speaking of global domination. One's "whole world" consists of the extent that one can succeed within the parameters that God has established for any given soul.
God chose the gender, race, genetics, economic, familial, social, and political environments, with all of their opportunities and limitations, in order to afford each one of us the opportunity to accomplish in the master plan of God. While there is nothing wrong with making the best of these pre-determined boundaries, or with opportunities to change them for the better, p-r-o-v-i-d-i-n-g that such changes do not take us away from the plan that God created us to identify and execute.
It is not unlike the devil (Luke 4: 5, 6) to offer us deals to i-m-m-e-d-i-a-t-e-l-y r-e-c-e-i-v-e- much of what we would otherwise have to wait for or forego in the plan of God. To "sweeten the deal", he offers such things without the price that true discipleship will cost us. Note, however, that the devil NEVER offers anything to anyone beyond the grave, nor does he disclose what the long term costs will be, if not here on Earth, certainly in the life after the grave (Rev. 20: 15/1Cor. 3: 15).
"And he (the devil) led Him (the Lord Jesus Christ) up
and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a
moment of time (5). And the devil said to Him, "I
will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has
been handed over to me (at the Fall of Man) and I
give (delegate) it (the kingdoms and their glory) to
whomever I wish (6). " - Luke 4 NASB/italics mine
There are no longer ANY souls of believers in the Paradise section of Hades, but the souls of all unbelievers continue to remain in the Torments section of Hades until they are brought forth and judged at the end of time (Rev. 20: 13, 15).
Note that those who are thrown into the lake of fire will have the opportunity to present their case, based on ALL the GOOD deeds (Rev. 20: 13) they engaged in while on Earth, but that not ONE of these GOOD deeds will be found to have secured or to have retained eternal life. Such souls retain their "everlasting life" of the soul that NEVER dies, but it becomes a curse as the eternal suffering in the lake of fire NEVER ends!
Likewise there are several other different species (fallen angels, demons) of spiritual beings confined or will be confined in various sections of Hades (Tartarus/ The Abyss) until they, too, are released to fulfill a divine purpose, and then finally sent to the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 10) along with the devil. Note that at the present time, the devil is NOT in "Hell" waiting for all the "bad" people to join him there. To the extent that God allows, the devil and all the Ephesians 6: 12 forces of evil are alive and relatively well, functioning HERE on Earth as they engage in the spiritual combat of the Church Age. To the extent that God allows, this IS the devil's world (Luke 4: 6) and he (the devil) exercises great authority over it!
The "sea" in mentioned in Rev. 20: 13 because the sea. among other things, serves as a containing barrier unless opened by the keys in the possession of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rev. 1: 18) in order to serve divine purposes.
"When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He
placed His right hand on me, saying, "Do not be afraid; I am
the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead
(in His humanity-John 19: 30), and behold I am alive (in His
resurrected body) forevermore and I have the keys of death
and of Hades. (Rev.1: 17,18 NASB/italics mine)."
There are times (Luke 16: 22,23/Luke 23:43 /Ephesians 4: 8/Jude 1: 6/Rev. 20: 2, 7, 10, 13), in both the past and future, when the entrance way to the various compartments (Paradise; Torments; The abyss; etc.) of Hades were and will be opened and secured in order to achieve divine purposes.
"Now the poor man died and as carried by the angels to Abraham's
bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. In Hades he (the
formerly rich man) lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham
far away and Lazarus in His bosom (Luke 22: 23 NASB/italics mine)."
"And He (the Lord Jesus Christ) said to him (one of the two criminals on
crosses on each side of the Lord), " Truly I say to you, today (the day of his
earthly departure) you will be with Me in Paradise (the section of Hades where
all the departed souls of believers went to the prior resurrection of the Lord Jesus
"Therefore when He (the Lord Jesus Christ) ascended (from the Paradise of Hades), He
led captive a host (Old Testament believers) of captives (to Heaven)....".
Eph. 4:8 NASB/italics mine.
"And (fallen) angels who did not keep their own domain (Gen. 6: 2), but abandoned their
proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment...".
Jude 1:6 (NASB/italics mine).
"And he (an angel who had been given the key to the abyss) laid hold of the dragon, the
the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him (the devil) for a thousand
years (Rev. 20: 2 NASB/italics mine)."
"When the thousand years (coterminous with the millennial kingdom of God here on
Earth-Rev. 20: 3,4) are completed, Satan will be released from his prison (The Abyss)
Rev. 20:7 NASB/italics mine."
"And 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 that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that
were in (or being held by) them; and they (the departed souls of ALL unbelievers) were judged,
every one of them according to their deeds (human good works)." Rev. 20: 13 NASB/italics mine
Note that the departed souls of unbeliever were allowed to present their case (based on their deeds of human good that includes Man made religion), but when their names were NOT found in the Book of Life (that contains the names of all born again believers) they were tossed into the lake of fire!
"And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into
the lake of fire (regardless of ANY amount of human good or religious rituals he was
involved with during his time on Earth). Rev. 20: 15 NASB/italics mine.
During the dispensation of the Old Testament, angels served the function of transporting/escorting departed souls to Hades (Luke ). Some believe that angels are still involved in escorting the departed souls of the Church Age to Heaven, being one of the services (Hebrews 1: 14) that they provide to born again believers.
Human viewpoint portrays the transporting being negatively as the "Grim Reaper" when Scripture portrays the departing soul of a believer as being a precious event (Psalms 116; 15). The only ones that have cause to view death and their departure grimly, are those who will find themselves in the Torments of Hades with only the Lake of Fire in their future!
"Precious in the sight of the Lord (and those who share the
"mind of Christ - 1Cor. 2: 16)") IS the death of His godly ones."
Psalms 116: 15 NASB/italics mine.
The keys of Rev. 1: 18 are not to be confused with the keys given to Peter (Matthew 16: 19), the remaining apostles, and to every born again believer of the Church Age (Matthew 28: 19, 20). The keys, given to Peter and that every Church Age believer receives, are symbolic of the Gospel Message, that EVERY born again member of the Church Age has been commissioned to proclaim. The "binding" of Matthew 16:19 refers to the eternal significance that believing or rejecting the Gospel Message, proclaimed by the TRUE CHURCH, has on those who are presented with it. Just as Scripture (John 3:16, 18) assures believers that they are spiritually alive (Titus 3: 5) and headed for Heaven, Scripture assures unbelievers that if they choose to reject the Gospel, they will remain spiritually dead (Joh 8: 24 and will find themselves in Hell (Rev. 20: 13, 15).
Jesus declared that He was/is and remains to be the ONE and ONLY way to Heaven (John 14: 6/John 3: 18).
"...I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one
comes to the Father (goes to Heaven) but (except)
through Me (John 14: 6 NASB/italics mine)."
"He (the human soul) who b-e-l-i-e-v-e-s in Him
is not judged (cast into the lake of fire-Rev. 20: 15);
(but) he (the human soul) that does not b-e-l-i-e-v-e
has been judged already (here on Earth) because he has
not b-e-l-i-e-v-e-d in the name (all that He did) of the
the only begotten Son of God (John 3: 18 NASB/italics mine)."
So much for ALL the religions of the world (Psalms 96) and/or ALL the futile attempts to secure or retain such things by "good" human behavior. Such things NEVER did and NEVER will generate (Titus 3:5) as much as a millisecond of eternal life!
Post salation discipleship is NOT a requirement to retain salvation, but only IF one comes to a clear understanding of the true Gospel and ALL that it entails, that a soul can experience the John 8: 32 type of freedom, and then has the spiritual maturity to perceive the blasphemous and insulting nature behind ALL that Man attempts to accomplish by adding his own work to what God, and only God, could and did do (John 19: 30) and continues to do (Romans 14: 4), until the day of Redemption (Ephesians ) when ALL born again believers arrive in Heaven.
Salvation is the eternal possession of EVERY born again believer, rather we "feel" it or not. However, the type of freedom spoken of in John 8:32 is the result of a lifetime of discipleship. Discipleship is the studying and applying the Word of God on a daily basis. This is what our Lord meant by "those who c-o-n-t-i-n-u-e" in His Word (John 8: 31). There is a major difference between knowing "of" God and knowing "God".
One of the most deceptive "deals" that a believers can unwittingly entertain concerns entering into a "partnership" with those who knowingly or unwittingly promote false doctrine. Just as one who supports the evangelist or pastor teacher will share the rewards for the divine good produced, so will the one who supports a false prophet or organization share in the accountability for the evil he promotes. Evil, in this case is anything that Man has added to the Word of God in doctrine practice. As we come to the end of the Church Age (1TImothy 4: 1), the Christian Community will be replete with such evil, with true and accurate doctrine becoming more and more of a hard find!
" But the (Holy) Spirit explicitly says that
in later times some (believers) will fall away
(depart) from the faith (accurate doctrine), (by)
paying attention to deceitful spirits and (adopting)
doctrines (promoted by) of demons (1TIm.4: 1 NASB/italics mine)."
Failing to perceive and to detect the presence and activity of the devil WITHIN the ranks of God's Army is an Age-old area of weakness of God's people. Like the Pharisees of Orthodox Judaism, each generation of the Church Age seems to produce its own type of Pharisee that in spite of all their misdirected zealousness for God, they unwittingly became a powerful tool in the hand of the devil.
Like a submerged submarine, the devil can do the most harm when his presence and activity is not detected.
Praying for an apostate minister or ministry can do no harm, as God will not promote either one, no matter how many prayers He receives or how sincere the minister may be, if the minister is sincerely wrong! Scripture is clear (Luke 4: 6) that God is not t the only source of "blessing" in the spiritual realm.
"And the devil said to Him, "I will give you all this domain, and its
and its glory; for it (this world) has been handed (back) over
to me (as of the Fall of Man), and I (can) give (delegate) it to whomever I wish."
(Luke 4: 6 NASB/italics mine).
Praying for an apostate minister or ministry can do much good if it results in the minister being spiritually edified by whatever means God chooses. Providing physical (attending) or listening (radio, television, Internet, CD. DVD, books, fliers, tracts, bumper stickers) support can be detrimental to the integrity of one's own soul structure (Matthew 7: 24-27) and to the soul structures of those with whom the false doctrine and/or practices we unwittingly promote!
When we choose to provide financial support to ANY minister, ministry, or denomination, we become partners in the spread of the doctrines (accurate or false) and practices it endorses and promotes! Before we give ANY donations or make regular financial contributions to any minister, ministry, or denomination, one should obtain and read the "small print" of it's doctrinal statement to verify that this is what one wants to truly support! If the ministry does not have one or does not function accordingly, it is NOT to be supported.
Most of us are NOT going to be called to a grand role as was Adam, Eve, Abraham, Jacob, Isaiah, David, Mary, John the Baptist, Peter, or Paul , but ALL of us (believers) are like a single brick in a large brick wall that DO have a place (1C0r. 11:18) and a purpose in the Master Plan of God. We are ALL called to a specific local assembly and or ministry where we are to function as a pastor teacher, evangelist, or in a supportive role.
In addition to this general call, each one of us face opportunities to shake the devil's hand in the presence of unseen spiritual beings that brings glory or shame to God or the things of God on a daily basis as we go about our daily routines.
Each and every day, evidenced by the personal priorities we CHOOSE to establish and the choices we make we either engage choose to honor God or the devil. We enter into a "deal" with God when we choose to set aside a period of time to learn of or to refine the doctrinal content of our soul structure and to engage in the spiritual warfare of that day. When we do, God receives the glory before seen and the unseen witnesses to the overt activity of that decision. For our part, we receive such earthly blessings as defined in John 8: 31, as we send on ahead the eternal rewards that we will receive in Heaven (1Cor. 3: 12-15).
When we choose NOT to do so, we will inevitably devote that same time and energy to some temporal goal that is independent of the plan of God, or worse, contributes to the decay of our soul structure. There is nothing wrong with having and enjoying earthly pleasures p-r-o-v-i-d-i-n-g they do not become an idol or an impediment to the plan of God.
The idol test is easy to perform, but its results can be hard to acknowledge is it will likely require us to make an adjustment in our list of priorities that we would rather just leave alone. Just ask yourself what or who is it that takes up most of your conscious attention in the course of any givenday. Is it your health, wealth, marriage, family, career, job, hobby?
Discipleship is a 24-7 relationship. If you do not have a real consciousness of the presence of God no matter what else you are doing in any place or at any time, then at the very least you have a competitor for first place on your list of priorities, and in the worst case scenario, have allowed someone or something to become an idol.
The devil works much like a magician. The basis concept of being a magician is to have the audience focus on one thing while the trick is being executed somewhere else.
Then there are the many daily opportunities to shake the devil's hand in order to receive that momentary satisfaction or pleasure that sin offers to our fallen, self-centered, hostile nature. What we do not recognize is that by doing so we have "pulled the plug" and disconnected ourselves to the divine (John 15: 5) power source necessary to produce divine good. The production of divine good is the ONE and ONLY ongoing (divine) purpose for our presence here on Earth, once we have been born again.
What might appear to be just a little compromise with evil, can take us just as quickly and takes us just as far out of fellowship (1Cor. 13: 14) with God as ANY other sin (James 2:10/Habakkuk 1:13). Sin is sin!
"Your eyes are too pure to approve (any kind or any amount) of evil. And You
cannot look (with approval) on wickedness with favor....(Hab. 1: 13 NASB/italics mine)."
"For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in ONE point, he has become
(as) guilty (as one who is guilty) of all (James 2: 10 NASB/italics mine."
There is not one thought, let alone one action, that gets by the omnipresent and omniscient God to whom we will all give an account (Romans 14:12).
"...So then each one of us will given an account of himself to God (Romans 14: 12 NASB)."
We remain out of fellowship and disconnected until we confess the sin (1John 1: 9). The period(s) of time that we are out of fellowship with God, and incapable of producing ANY divine good, can be as brief as the seconds it takes to confess it, or can be for as long as the rest of our post salvation spiritual life here on Earth. For sure, the devil gets the better end of that deal! Accordingly, even the littlest deal we can make with the devil can cost us dearly at the 1Cor. 3: 12-15 evaluation that takes place in Heaven.
This concludes our study of the FAQ, "What does it mean to shake hands with the devil?"
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