Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Illegal and Immoral

Crime and sin can be very similar. Certainly they overlap, and sometimes they are identical, i.e. murder is sin, and it is also a crime. Lying is sin; sometimes it is a crime.

Crime is a violation of the law. Sin is a violation of God’s moral law, God’s holiness. The criminal is to be punished on earth according to his crime. The sinner is to be forgiven or to be punished everlastingly.

It is possible to be executed for murder (a crime) and also to be forgiven for the same murder (sin). I know of several such cases.

There are people who do not commit crimes, but they do lie. They are not in danger of jail. They are in serious danger (unless they are forgiven) of hellfire.

“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal. 5:19-21)

These are sins, not crimes.
“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:9-11)
Thieving, swindling, and slandering are crimes as well as sins.
“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Rev. 21:8)
Notice that murder is the only crime in this list.
It is normal for people to think that if they are not criminals they are safe from the judgment of God. Please search this out and change your thinking for yourself, your friends, and your relatives.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

If Everyone Else Does It...

A bumper sticker I saw recently: “Eat American lamb; ten million coyotes can’t be wrong.”

Many people operate on the idea that if everyone does it, it must be good, right, or at least ok. The problem with this is that it contradicts Scripture:

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

“There is not a just man upon earth that does good and sins not.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20)

If everyone does it, it must be wrong. When it comes to moral judgment, the majority does not determine what is right.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Scriptural Decisions Made on Earth

In recent years, there has been a series of accounts of people who have been pronounced dead and sometime later came back to life. They then told what they saw and experienced during the thirty minutes when they were dead. Most of the accounts said that they had pleasant experiences. Some of those later said they had lied. It is not my purpose to verify or refute these stories.

The Bible tells the stories of two men, both of them named Lazarus. Lazarus #1 had been dead four days, wrapped in grave clothes and buried. There is no written account of his experience during those four days. The point of the story is Jesus’ own resurrection. “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.’” (John 11:25)

Lazarus #2 does not come back to life. Jesus tells us of a conversation Abraham had with a rich man after the rich man and Lazarus both died. The rich man wanted Lazarus to go back to earth. Here is the story:

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16:19-31)

This is not a parable. It is a true story in real time told by the only one who could tell it, the Lord Jesus.

This story tells us of two places, one pleasant, and the other unpleasant (understatement). The moral of the story is that decisions are made an earth, and the answer is in the Scriptures.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Immediate Judgment & the Final Judgment

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Cor. 5:10)

“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment…” (Heb. 9:27)

“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:11-15)

These three texts speak of a final judgment. It is a certainty!

With no exceptions, everyone who was alive on this earth 150 years ago is now dead. That is at least 2 billion people. They died from war, starvation, cold, murder, disease, and old age. They have had an immediate judgment and look forward to the final judgment. Jesus said,

“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” (John 5:28-29)

Are you ready to die? Are you ready for the judgment?

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Hypocrites Are Not An Excuse

There are people who do not follow Jesus because of the hypocrites who say they are following Jesus. By definition, hypocrites are play actors, fakers, pretenders. We know that! Do we think Jesus does not know that?

People who make this excuse are not following Jesus because of other people who are not following Jesus. That makes no sense at all. But people who love to sin are not rational.

Here is what Jesus says:

“But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt. 24:48-51)

These people will end up in the same hell as the hypocrites are in: “…assign him a place with the hypocrites.”

Monday, August 15, 2016

A Hypocritical Excuse

Most people have a negative view of hypocrites. Jesus also had a negative view of hypocrites. However, there is a difference in His response. People talk about hypocrites; Jesus talked to them. This is what He said:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.” (Matthew 23:13-15)

People use hypocrites as an excuse for not becoming real Christians. That should be a reason not to be a hypocrite, not a reason not to be a Christian. Hypocrites are not Christians. Unless they repent, they will end up in the bad place.

There are some people who know that they are not hypocrites. They are just bad and wicked. Jesus said: “He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 24:51)

These non-hypocrites will end up in the same hell as the hypocrites.

There is no virtue in simply not being a hypocrite.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The God of the Bible

One of the ways I can tell that someone has not read the Bible is they say this authoritatively: "I believe in the New Testament's God of love, not the Old Testament's God of wrath."

That is biblical illiteracy at its worst. God did not change His character at the end of the Old Testament.

In the Old Testament, we see Sheol, the place of the dead. To my knowledge, the Old Testaments does not describe Sheol. Jesus describes it several ways. In Luke 16, Jesus tells us the story of the rich man and Lazarus. This is not a parable, for two reasons: 1) Lazarus is named. People are not named in parables. 2) The Scripture normally tells us if they are parables, as in Luke 15:3. If the story were a parable, then the real would be much worse than the parable says, not less.

"So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire'" (Luke 16:24).

Jesus was the original Hell fire preacher. "Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life" (John 5:24). "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them" (John 3:36).

The parable of the wheat and tares explained in Matthew 13:40-42, 49-50 is the meaning of the dragnet. "As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth...This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

In the story of the marriage feast, Jesus tells us of the people who refused to come. "The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city" (Matt. 22:7). Jesus also tells of the person who attended without wedding clothes. "Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth'" (Matt. 22:13). Jesus did not give an explanation of these violent statements. These statements were the explanations.

"You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?" (Matt. 23:33). This is a rhetorical question.

"He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matt. 24:51).

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). Notice that everlasting life in instead of perishing.

In Revelation 6, when the sixth seal is broken and everyone wants to hide, "and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?'" (Rev. 6:16-17). Another rhetorical question.

"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. 'He will rule them with an iron scepter.' He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: King of kings and Lord of lords" (Rev. 19:11-16). He treads the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God.

"Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:14-15).

"But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death" (Rev. 21:8).

The New Testament describes the love of God and the wrath of God. The love of God was expressed towards us on the cross, because the wrath of God was the alternative. Jesus took our place and received the wrath so we would not have to receive it.

"Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Cor. 6:9-11)

"The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." (Gal. 5:19-24)

"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:6-8)

Jesus paid our penalty. "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isa. 53:6).