Posted in life, theology

Your Worst Life Now

By Elizabeth Prata

I saw this meme on Twitter. The ‘best life now’ mantra offends me.

I’m personally glad that this is my worst life now. It’s hard and upsetting. I can’t wait until there is only joy and peace.

As for the unsaved, sadly, John MacArthur said at the Strange Fire conference some years ago,

All peoples need to hear this mantra, which is no mantra but only absolute truth:

From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)

 

Posted in theology

The opposite view of Elisha’s servant

By Elizabeth Prata

During preparation for battle, prophet Elisha’s servant was weak kneed and worried. There seemed to be a lot of them and not a lot of us.

When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:15-17).

Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel saw the throne of God in heaven through visions. Paul (we assume) was lifted up to heaven and saw things he could not express. John, Peter, James saw heaven come down in the form of a transfigured Jesus in His glory. These men had glimpses of things beautiful and glorious. Paul (we assume) seemed especially affected, the way we spoke of the experience in 2 Corinthians 12:7. He said what he saw was of surpassing greatness. The word surpassing here in Greek is hyperbole, you might recognize the term. Here it is in a strong emphatic meaning beyond measure, excessively beyond, surpassing excellence.

This all makes me want to see heaven even more! But what about the opposite? What if we could pray to the Lord as Elisha did, and say, “Lord, open their eyes and show them their future, in punishment and torment in the Lake of Fire, where the worm does not die.” If people could see hell, would they repent? Would they believe God means what He says?

Just imagine for a moment that the eyes of all unconverted men were opened to see the situation in which they stand. Oh! What doleful cries of agony and terror would rise from every dwelling, when they saw that the Almightiness of Jehovah is all ready to be let loose upon them, body and soul, forever. ~M’Cheyne, “The Believer’s Joy”

Would they be aghast, not at seeing God who encircles His throne with holiness and glory so strong it wold kill you to merely glimpse it, but the orange-lit fires of hell, a blazing furnace of sulphur, where the screams and cries of the damned echo eternally.

Jonathan Edwards evoked the picture of hell in his famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. His preaching about our sin and its just and due punishment, sent people flinging themselves into the aisles at the thought of such wrath for sin. Edwards wanted, not to scare them, but to awaken them to the fact that there does exist a just punishment for sin, and that the day of reckoning may come sooner rather than later for any person in the church that day.

The veil had been momentarily lifted through Edwards’ word pictures and viewing that scene in their mind’s eye was one of grief and pain for the hearers. Stephen Williams, who had attended the sermon that day, said that “The [sic] shreiks and crys were piercing and amazing.”

Until salvation comes, unrepentant sinners stand on a precipice so gaping, the fires so hot, hell so yawning, and that the punishment is eternal, that it is hard to grasp the weight and fact of it. Truly, the unregenerate mind does not even try to grasp it.

Fortunately, though God allowed Elisha’s servant to glimpse his majesty and might, we don’t need God to allow glimpses of hell in order to visualize the fact of coming punishment, nor do we need vivid word pictures like Edwards’, as helpful as sermons like his were and are. Any person at any time can read about it in His book, the Holy Bible. Jesus explained about it, the Spirit inspired other verses and passages about the reality of hell. It’s the opposite of bountiful joy, eternal torment. Jesus spoke more about hell than any other issue.

Jesus talks about hell more than he talks about heaven, and describes it more vividly. There’s no denying that Jesus knew, believed, and warned against the absolute reality of hell. Source

It begins and ends there. Learn about a holy God who judges and saves. See the written, inspired descriptions of joys abounding in heaven and torments unspeakable in hell. Comprehend the law and grace available to your inquiring eyes.

In that moment, God gave Elisha’s servant a mercy in allowing him a glimpse of God’s protective might. But in reading the Bible, we can not merely glimpse, but absorb and enjoy learning about Jesus, His love and His wrath- both.

Edwards’ word pictures alone were enough to startle a congregation and elicit moans and cries on the spot. Imagine the real reality of the lake of burning sulphur, of not being lovingly placed there, but thrown, like a used tissue. Of being in it forever. read His word on to gain knowledge of our sin, His punishment for it, and the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, the gracious remedy.

fire fall down

Posted in prophecy, theology

The only glory they’ll ever see…

…is when they are standing at the Great White Throne. It will be the ultimate flashbulb moment.

Psychologists have a thing called ‘Flashbulb memory”. It’s that moment when a piece of extremely emotional or traumatic news was heard. Cognition Magazine explains,

“Almost everyone can remember, with an almost perceptual clarity, where he was when he heard, what he was doing at the time, who told him, what was the immediate aftermath, how he felt about it, and also one or more totally idiosyncratic and often trivial concomitants.”

The prototypical event in past cognition studies was the moment President Kennedy was shot. More recent studies use the moment the news broke about the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York on September 11, 2001.

When I was a teenager, my father gave me a 1940s Argus camera, similar to the one above. It had the kind of flash you mounted on top of the camera. It was extremely bright, and you had to pop the bulb out after, which was extremely hot. The photo subject always involuntarily blinked in the microsecond after the flash went off, due to the brightness. You know when they closed their eyes, the reverse negative of the image is emblazoned on the inside of their eyelids. That’s a real flashbulb moment.

When the unsaved are exhumed and gathered to the Great White Throne, they will see Jesus in His glory. They will account for their lives, and try to explain their sin. However, they will be found without excuse. When the judgment is done, they will be sent to outer darkness.

They will see the Ancient of Days, hair white as wool, glorious in light and power. They will see. Their eyes having been blind on earth to Him, will now see Him AND His glory. It will be bright.

Then they will be cast into outer darkness, fire, and torment forever. The darkness will be complete, palpable, utter. It will contain no hope, no glimmer, no crack at all. Even when waving one’s hand in front of one’s face, the sinner will find no relief from the ink. The only light they will ever see will be the glory light of God emblazoned on the inside of their eyelids forever. The actual glory will be unreachable, its chasm unbridgeable. It is the ultimate flashbulb moment.

Sister, we have been forgiven of our sins, the sins that would have sent us to that throne to plead our case, only to be finally rejected and sent to the Hopeless Dark. Our flashbulb moment will last for eternity. We will see Him and not be consumed by wrath. We will enjoy the brightness of His glory through glorified eyes. Let’s take a moment to be grateful for His grace today, and to remember the destiny of others. Be a witness to His name.

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 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. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15).

Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:30).

By Elizabeth Prata

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Weepers and gnashers: the importance of examining ourselves

I saw this clip on Todd Friel’s Wretched Youtube page last night and it was extremely moving to me. It was also convicting. It DID spur me to check myself and examine as to whether I am in the faith.

This is important to do, because as the video title suggests, there will be two types of people in hell. The two types are based on the verse from Matthew 13:50, where at the end of the age, angels will

throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

By the way, when you study angels you notice how active they are in executing all God’s commands, especially in Revelation. Anyway, in the clip, Dr Sproul explains what the weeping and what gnashing of teeth is.

The weepers are weeping because they were self-deceived all along and were not saved when they thought they were. Jesus will declare to them, “Depart from me you workers of iniquity, I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:21-23). Hence the urgency to check one’s self to see if we are in the faith. (2 Corinthians 13:5).

The gnashers are angry. They refuse to acknowledge God for who He is, even while they are justly tormented in the fires of hell. How can this be, one might wonder, when the entire lake of fire has been prepared by God for the devil and his angels, and the unforgiven sinners? The fires are real, they are in them. How can they not acknowledge God?

Revelation gives us a clue as to the depth of sin and the anger at God’s authority. Even while they were alive and under punishment of God’s plagues, they did not repent. Revelation 9:20-21 has the first instance. The Lord sent an angel to open the pit and release hordes and billions of demons, which were so many they clouded the sun upon their release. The demons were given authority to plague mankind with sores and pain. A third of all mankind is killed! Further billions will be laying around writhing at the sting of demons, and yet-

The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, 21 nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.

To make the depth of their depravity even more pointed, the next verse from Revelation shows clearly that they KNOW it is God sending the plagues, and they did not repent. Instead, they cursed his very name!

They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory. (Revelation 16:9).

And again in verse 11 when another plague was sent, they did not repent but instead cursed the name of God again. Instead, they began assembling at Armageddon to fight him!

This all goes to show the power of sin. The power of sin to delude us as to its power. It can blind us. Am I self-deceived? Am I not in the faith? Will I hear those dread words ‘depart from me?’ Will I be weeping?

Please watch the short video and ponder the gravity of it all. The cross of Jesus split history. It split the whole of humankind into two types of people- saved and unsaved. It split the world into Gospel-loving and hell-bound. The cross stands alone as the point of beginning or the point of departure.

There will be two types of people in hell…

 

I thank God that there are and were men to preach the truth, even the unpleasant truths of scripture, such as hell, self-delusion, and false conversion. It’s important. Now, how do we examine one’s self? Further resources are listed below.

Sermon series:

Undoubtedly the sincere claims people make are sometimes far from reality. As chilling as that thought may be, there are countless well-meaning people who believe they’re saved, but they aren’t. Could you or someone you know be one of them? How do you know your faith is built on a solid foundation? Or is that something you can ever know this side of eternity?
Determine for yourself whether you are a Christian. John MacArthur shows you how to assess your spiritual condition in Examine Yourself.

If you don’t want to go through a series of sermons, here is a 15-page free booklet called Is it Real? 11 Biblical Tests of Salvation.

If you don’t want to read a 15 page booklet, here is a 5-page free booklet called Examine Yourself.

If you don’t want to read 5 pages, here is a 515 word essay from GotQuestions on What does it mean to examine yourself?

If you don’t want to read 500 words to examine yourself, then I direct you back up to the top to re-watch the clip, where there will be two types of people in hell. I’m not saying that if you don’t follow through in looking at these particular resources you’l go to hell, but I’m emphasizing that the power of sin to delude us is great and must be constantly watched against. There is nothing more important than checking one’s self to make sure we are not one of the two types. It’s the best thing you could do all day or for all eternity. 🙂 If nothing else, you will receive assurance! This illustration by artist Boris Sajtinac is all too vivid!

apostate church by boris sajtinac

Believe me, I checked myself immediately after watching the clip. I know the power of sin to delude me is too great. I’ve seen it happen to others and I know it dwells inside myself. Please, pray and check, and be assured, dear sister.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

One day as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day

The reality of a faith-filled life is a beautiful thing. Jesus’ sweet intercessions, His providential care, the magnanimity of His salvation, the ongoing gratitude we feel during increased sanctification, are all wonderful buttresses to the daily grind we experience. It’s wonderful to have Him to focus upon as the object of our adoration and awe.

Just as pondering His love and kindness is an encouragement, His wrath and judgment are weighty topics that should be mulled over as well. The fact is, many human beings will populate the Lake of Fire for all eternity, a devastating thought if you really chew on it for a while.

I’ll be posting a three-part series on the verse from Romans 9:22 about the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction. I’d found a wonderful sermon from Robert Murray M’Cheyne, his last sermon in fact. He raised three important points about God’s electing people to be His ‘vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,’ and I intend to post them piecemeal over the next 3 days.

Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about the reality of hell for the lost. One of the verses I studied today was this from 2 Peter 3:8.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (2 Peter 3:8).

In context, Peter is assuring his readers that the Lord’s final plan regarding His return and the judgment WILL come to pass. God is not slack concerning His promise, Peter goes onto state. The point of the verse was to remind the audience that God is outside of time and in control of everything. We read a parallel to the time thing in Psalm 90:4,

For a thousand years in your sight
are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night

The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary explained the thousand year/day v. day/thousand year part of the 2 Peter verse.

No delay which occurs is long to God: as to a man of countless riches, a thousand guineas are as a single penny. God’s œonologe (eternal-ages measurer) differs wholly from man’s horologe (hour-glass). His gnomon (dial-pointer) shows all the hours at once in the greatest activity and in perfect repose. To Him the hours pass away, neither more slowly, nor more quickly, than befits His economy. There is nothing to make Him need either to hasten or delay the end. The words, “with the Lord” (Ps 90:4, “In Thy sight”), silence all man’s objections on the ground of his incapability of understanding this

When reading the J-F-B about the gnomon, œonologe, and horologe, I got pretty excited! More stuff to study. But for today’s thought, back to the beginning of thinking over the fate of the lost in the Lake of Fire for all eternity, it might be helpful to see the thousand year part of the verse this way. Though there is not a literal ‘day’ in heaven or in hell:

–Those who are with the Lord in heaven experience such post-life joy that a thousand years passes as one day.
–Those who are with the Lord in hell (He is not there but His wrath is), experience such post-life torment that one day is as a thousand years.

It is a sobering thought.

Posted in Uncategorized

Jan Crouch and Muhammad Ali- questions of death, final destination, and eternity

Jan Crouch died a few days ago. Muhammad Ali died yesterday. Famous people dying makes us think about eternity. The news coverage puts eternity into the spotlight, along with the eternal question, what happens after death?

One minute after you slip behind the parted curtain, you will either be enjoying a personal welcome from Jesus Christ, or catching your first glimpse of gloom as you have never known it. Either way, your future will be irrevocably fixed and eternally unchangeable. ~Erwin Lutzer, One Minute After You Die

Of those family and friends of who we are pretty sure were justified on earth and are now glorified in heaven, we mourn their passing but celebrate their ongoing life. We might envision them meeting Jesus, and think of their wonder at the glory that surrounds them, and how excited they might be to praise and sing to the Savior. It is pleasant to ponder these imaginings of those we miss but are fairly sure have gone on to glory.

For those of whom we are less sure they are resting in peace or singing in the choir invisible, we have different imaginings. These ponderings would include people like Jan Crouch and Muhammad Ali. What was it like for them one minute after they died?

Janice Wendell Bethany Crouch was a woman who professed Christ but in near certainty did not possess Him. She was in fact a greedy false teacher who taught and believed in a different Jesus. I don’t think that can be debated. By any stretch, she was likely not justified and is probably not resting in peace, but in all probability is in torment. (Titus 1:16). We can’t say for sure, because final destination is the task of Jesus to determine. But there are strong indicators given what the Bible verses say about the entry requirements to heaven. So, we ponder her meeting one minute after she died.

The UK Daily Mail pulled no punches about Crouch’s death and life:

Televangelist Jan Crouch who founded the world’s largest ‘prosperity praying’ church and was famous for her purple hairdo and extravagant spending dies aged 78 

But before she passed away yesterday, days after suffering a massive stroke at her Florida home, the 78-year-old lived a life of enormous wealth funded by her Evangelical TV empire. Alongside her husband Paul, Crouch preached to millions of viewers on a weekly basis, promising them wealth if only they would open up their own pockets and donate to her. Using that money the couple bought adjoining mansions in Florida, jets worth almost $60 million and a $100,000 mobile home just to house Janice’s dogs, according to a lawsuit filed in 2012.

Jan Crouch was a ridiculous caricature of a woman. With her cotton candy, wild colored hair, extravagant lifestyle, and outlandish statements it was easy to dismiss her for being unbiblical in even her appearance. (1 Timothy 2:9, 1 Peter 3:3). Her evil influence regarding life and doctrine affected people across the entire globe. Jan Crouch did not know the Jesus of the Bible. So it’s easy to imagine that she might well have entered hell one minute after she died.

Matthew Henry said of false teachers (2 Corinthians 11:15),

It is far better to be plain in speech, yet walking openly and consistently with the gospel, than to be admired by thousands, and be lifted up in pride, so as to disgrace the gospel by evil tempers and unholy lives.

I have many thoughts about her and others like her, who lead millions astray. She grieved the Spirit many times, and though I want to say more, I’ll end this part on Jan Crouch saying exactly what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 11:15, of false teachers:

Their end will be what their actions deserve.

Muhammad Ali was a famous boxer, heavyweight champion of the world in fact. He was a masterful athlete, a gifted marketer, an orator extraordinaire. I came of age during his tenure as heavyweight champ. I was 14 when the Ali’s victory over Joe Frazier, happened. You remember the Thrilla in Manila. It was the greatest fight of all time, people say. Ali dominated my early adulthood like no other athlete did, not even Olga Korbut, Nadia Comăneci, or Evel Knievel. OK, lol on that last one. But my point is, Ali’s deeds and persona insinuated into even this retiring, bookish gal’s mind. He surely was a force to be reckoned with.

My father-in-law was a policeman and he was on duty inside the arena during the famous 1965 Lewiston Maine Ali-Vs. Sonny Liston fight. Ali was named Cassius Clay then, his real name before his conversion to Islam. The most famous and iconic shot of Ali ever taken occurred in Lewiston during that controversial fight. Neil Leifer’s photo is below,

Muhammad Ali after first round knockout of Sonny Liston
during World Heavyweight Title fight at St. Dominic’s Arena
in Lewiston, Maine on 5/25/1965. Leifer photo

In retirement since 1981, Ali has “helped promote world peace, civil rights, cross-cultural understanding, interfaith relations, humanitarianism, hunger relief, and the commonality of basic human values.”

In 1965, Ali joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name. He converted to Sunni Islam in 1975, and then to Sufism in 2005. Wikipedia reported,

Several weeks before the [Lewiston] fight, the Miami Herald published an article quoting Cassius Clay Sr. as saying that his son had joined the Black Muslims when he was 18. [Nation of Islam]. “They have been hammering at him ever since,” Clay Sr. said. “He’s so confused now that he doesn’t even know where he’s at.” He said his youngest son, Rudy Clay, had also joined. “They ruined my two boys,” Clay Sr. said. “Muslims tell my boys to hate white people; to hate women; to hate their mother.” Clay Jr. responded by saying, “I don’t care what my father said….I’m here training for a fight, and that’s all I’m going to say.”

In 1967, Ali was fervent enough in his beliefs in Nation of Islam to accept the consequences for his refusal to be conscripted. He had objected on religious grounds. Ali was arrested, found guilty and stripped of his heavyweight championship title. He fought the charge all the way to the Supreme Court, where his conviction was overturned. However, Ali had lost 4 prime fighting years in his career. He felt THAT strongly about Islam.

Muhammad Ali was easy to love and Jan Crouch was easy to hate. One spent a lifetime helping people and the other spent a lifetime bilking people. One rejected Christianity and another professed Him. Yet it is entirely likely that both are in hell, enduring eternal torment.

And so while relatives and friend plan your funeral- deciding on a casket, a burial plot, and who the pallbearers shall be, you will be more alive than you ever have been. You will either see God on His throne surrounded by angels and redeemed humanity, or you will feel an indescribable weight of guilt and abandonment. There is no destination midway between these two extremes; just gladness and gloom. Erwin Lutzer, ~One Minute After You Die

Ali’s good works won’t satisfy the entry requirement to heaven. His sincere religious beliefs won’t get him in. (Proverbs 16:25). Crouch’s pleas that everything she did, she did in His name won’t get her in. (Matthew 7:21-22).

The requirements to enter heaven are few, but are clear and direct. You must repent of your sins, and believe in the Jesus as revealed by the Bible. (John 3:15, Acts 1:11, Acts 2:32). Evidence for your profession is that you are submitted to Jesus’s ways, have stayed on the narrow path, and have grown in sanctification-producing fruit. If not…then not.

And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (Matthew 25:46)

I don’t write these things to point fingers and certainly not to gloat. I have shed tears writing this, and have stopped many times through the day to pray to Jesus in gratitude for His saving grace. I’m not saying that to appear super-spiritual but to demonstrate the weightiness of eternal matters. We cannot comprehend the seriousness of sin. Unbelievers are eternally guilty. Believers are eternally righteous. These are the most important ponderings in all of life.

When the curtain parts for us, nothing can keep us from answering the summons. One minute after we die we will either be elated or terrified. ~Lutzer

How can we be sure of where we are going after we die?

There are two important tests in Scripture for a person to determine whether or not he or she is a true believer.

There is first of all an objective test, which asks, “Do I believe?” Ask yourself if you affirm the Scripture’s record of the person and work of Jesus Christ. Do you believe that He is God manifest in the flesh? Do you believe that God saves sinners solely through the merits of Jesus Christ’s obedient life and substitutionary death on the cross?

Second is the subjective or experiential test of assurance in which you ask yourself, “Is my faith real?” The apostle John’s purpose in writing the epistle of 1 John was to give true believers assurance of their salvation (1 John 5:13). In that small epistle John gives several marks to distinguish a true believer. Source Gty.org

For more, go to the link, or here:

A Believer’s Assurance: A Practical Guide to Victory over Doubt

Is It Real: 11 Biblical Tests of genuine Salvation

For the unbeliever who may be wondering about the questions of eternity and final destiny, here is a resource,

What is the nature of true saving faith?

May God bless you and may you be assured of your destination into eternity. We all enter an eternity. Mine is with Jesus. I pray yours will be too.

And this is that testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. (1 John 5:11)

[By Elizabeth Prata]