Tag Archive | peace

The death of a Christian

And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:60)

Today I want to look at the kind of death Christians are afforded, as opposed to the unsaved. Tomorrow I’ll look at what Stephen cried out, the mater of pleading to the Judge for a reduced charge.

Death is the final frontier for unsaved people. That is the very edge of the precipice of knowledge which the unsaved person can tread. Beyond death, they do not know. And in the not knowing, they fear. What happens after death? Is there life? Do we blink out of existence? Death is the final frontier, and to the unsaved, ti’s one from which no one ever returns. There is no hope.

William Shakespeare’s character Hamlet said,

Thou know’st ’tis common; all that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity.

To grunt and sweat under a weary life;
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will

It surely puzzles the will. The world has spit up millions of poems, stories, essays, and books musing on the undiscovered country, and all are in vain, they’re only wind.

Yet that undiscovered country is one the born-again person knows well, from His word and through prayer, we are familiar with the other side. When, as Hamlet opined, ‘we shuffle off this mortal coil’ we know that we know that we know what lies ahead: glory, peace, perfection, and Light.

Some were blessed with glimpses of it on this side of the mortal coil. Stephen, when in the throes of preaching God’s word to the Pharisees, was seen to have the countenance of an angel, because he saw the Lord standing beside the father. Paul said he had been afforded a glimpse of glory so inexpressible and beautiful he had no words to describe it. Moses, upon having been with God atop Mt. Zion, still permeated with His glory when he descended the mountain, his face shining so brightly the people were afraid.

When the unsaved attempt to gaze into the beyond they only see darkness, question marks, and unwelcoming shadows and gloomy fear, behind which their perception stalls.

The saved person has had their heart regenerated, eyes opened, and mind illuminated to the scriptures, knows what comes after death. Life! The peace one feels now that one is no longer at enmity with the Savior permeates all of a born-again person’s life, even into and through death. Barnes’ Notes says of the Acts scripture above:

how peaceful and calm is a death like that of Stephen, when compared with the alarms and anguish of a sinner! One moment of such peace in that trying time is better than all the pleasures and honors which the world can bestow;and to obtain such peace then, the dying sinner would be willing to give all the wealth of the Indies, and all the crowns of the earth. So may I die and so may all my readers – enabled, like this dying martyr, to commit my departing spirit to the sure keeping of the great Redeemer! When we take a parting view of the world; when our eyes shall be turned for the last time to take a look of friends and relatives; when the darkness of death shall begin to come around us, then may we be enabled to cast the eye of faith to the heavens, and say, “Lord Jesus, receive our spirits.” Thus, may we fall asleep, peaceful in death, in the hope of the resurrection of the just.

What a blessing the Lord has given us, His imparted knowledge of what comes next. Even better, we have the assurance of His presence and love throughout eternity. No cold darkness for us! No gate of hell with sign affixed, as Dante mused,

“Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate”, or “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

Instead we may hear, as the servant in the parable heard,

‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ (Matthew 25:23).

Hamlet soliloquized upon contemplation of his suicide, ‘ to sleep, perchance to dream.’ No, friend, we have the assurance of life beyond life, love, light, activity, and a reality so real this present mortal coil will become the dream instead.

Beyond this mortal coil, we will live where righteousness dwells. Pray to thank the Lord for His many manifold blessings.

new heavens rigteousness dwells verse

EPrata photo

 

The war to end all wars: Thoughts on War and Peace

WWI represented a sea change. The technology available by the time that war in Europe broke out was like none ever seen in any previous war. The new technology could kill millions at a time. And it did.

Planes, flame throwers, tanks, poison gas…all created by man for the express purpose of killing in war and used in WWI.

WWI was also known for a stirring slogan, or motto. “It is the war to end all war!”

The is thanks to HG Wells, as this article from Vision describes:

This year marks the centennial of the outbreak of World War I. [1914-1918]. While the so-called Great War quickly proved to be anything but the war that would prevent all future conflicts, the concept is still intriguing: Can a war put an end to war?

HG Wells wrote: “This is now a war for peace. It aims straight at disarmament. It aims at a settlement that shall stop this sort of thing for ever. Every soldier who fights against Germany now is a crusader against war. This, the greatest of all wars, is not just another war—it is the last war!”

We’re all disheartened by war. As a child of the 1960s (born in 1960) the Viet Nam war raged as the bloody backdrop to my entire childhood. Scenes and clips of army men manhandled on stretchers through the jungle, bloody bandages, helicopters hovering over wildly waving tree top greenery, Walter Cronkite intoning the numbers of dead and wounded…all provided a confusing view of the world.

Into my adulthood, the dominating Soviet Bloc was bearishly stomping all over the world, the Berlin Wall went up, President Reagan and the real possibility of nuclear holocaust informed my adulthood as much as it perplexed it. We all felt that the world could end at any moment.

And now today, the North Korean President has intimated he could and will perform an attack on the US in the form of an electro-magnetic pulse. Such an attack, where a nuclear bomb explodes in the atmosphere above any land area emits a pulse that wipes out the electrical infrastructure. An EMP bomb exploded over the central US would impact all 48 of the lower US states by immediately turning off all electronics, including landlines, cell phones, wi-fi, internet, cars with chips int hem, etc. Mass starvation, disease, and violence from societal collapse would do the rest and 90% of the population would die withing the first couple of years.

Wars and rumors of wars have always been with us. It’s rough out there and it has been since almost the beginning. Look at Genesis 4:13-14. Cain had killed Abel. God spoke to Cain and told him his punishment will be that Cain will be a wanderer over all the earth for the rest of his days. Cain immediately worried that he would be killed by anyone who found him.

Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”

Only one chapter after the Fall we not only have murder by Cain against Abel but Cain knows that people everywhere are violent and likely as not would just kill him as to invite him in for a cup of tea.

As a child and teen and young adult I used to wonder quite often why the world was like this. Why were there wars after wars? Why was there always war? If we could just get the right ingredients to mix smoothly, we could solve this war problem. Is it that there are too may dictators? Unjust land grabs? Economic disparity? Unequal power? What was the magic balance so that we would never have war again?

Here is the answer as to why there are wars.

We are all, individually at war with Jesus. Inside us, we are born for war, each and every one of us. Our depraved nature demands it. We war against the King, the Supreme Power, the Creator who made us. We love sin and hate holiness and battle against holiness daily, hourly, every moment.

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4).

because the mind of the flesh is hostile to God: It does not submit to God’s Law, nor can it do so. (Romans 8:7)

Our hostility is the basis for all our actions. The enmity, or hostility, we feel against Jesus causes a battle within ourselves, battle against our neighbors, battle against Jesus, battle against nations. The rage we feel against the knowledge we all possess against a Holy God to whom we are accountable expresses itself in personal violence and national violence. (Romans 1:18-20).

“The War that Will End All Wars” will be Armageddon. All wars are leading up to that Big One. The entire world as represented by the global armies assembled at Har Megiddo will come together to fight Jesus. (Revelation 19:19). They will lose. (Revelation 19:21).

The only peace we can ever have is the peace that Jesus gives us. Redemption and His salvation settles the battle we wage in our hearts against Him and His holy standard.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27).

Once we are reconciled with Him,we are no longer at war with our own selves (except our sin-nature, but the Spirit helps us quell it). We love our neighbors, we love the King, we love His holy abode and release attachment to this earth.We are simply aliens in it.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7).

We were not only called to salvation, to holiness, to the Kingdom of Light, we were called to peace. Before salvation, there is no peace. Only war. After salvation, we are called to His peace

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called. (Colossians 3:15).

A Quiet Life

I have another blog called The Quiet Life. It is named after the verse from 1 Thessalonians 4:10-12,

But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

Growing up, there was a set of unsaved women friends of my father’s who were loud. They’d drink a lot and then they got even louder. My father called them the Decibelles. Clever name, and apt.

I like quietude. I don’t like loud people, raucous laughter, a hectic home, or bells, horns, or traffic. (Jake brakes, ugh). I know, I’m picky, and sometimes unrealistic about how quiet I want things. But the Thessalonians verse is still important to me.

However, I learned that the verse doesn’t mean simply quiet in terms of decibels. Volume is not in view here.

In Walvoord’s Commentary on Thessalonians we learn that a quiet life means in terms of an inner restfulness.

First, his readers should lead a restful life. The word translated quiet (hēsychazein) means quiet in the sense of restfulness (cf. Acts 22:2; 2 Thes. 3:12; 1 Tim. 2:2, 11), rather than quiet as opposed to talkativeness (sigaō; cf. Acts 21:40; 1 Cor. 14:34). The former means “undisturbed, settled, not noisy,” while the latter means “silent.” Paul was telling the Thessalonians to be less frantic, not less exuberant.

A person who is constantly on the move is frequently a bother to other people as well as somewhat distracted from his own walk with God. The latter can lead to the former. But a Christian who strives to be at peace with himself and God will be a source of peace to his brethren. Such quietude constitutes a practical demonstration of love for others.

Constable, T. L. (1985). 1 Thessalonians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures.

Have you ever noticed what Walvoord mentions? A person on the move all the time is a bother to others? I have noticed that. There are people who are like a bird, flitting here and there, and never landing anywhere. I want to be a source of peace to others. I want to exude a quiet confidence that comes from the source of peace in my heart. We know that the peace Jesus brings is a rest from the long ar we had against Him as sinners. Now saved and forgiven, we no longer have enmity with God, but peace.

As John MacArthur preached on this 1 Thessalonians verse,

I mean, we live in an agitated, upset, disoriented, messed-up world so why would agitated, upset, disoriented Christians have anything to offer it? But Christians who are characterized by love, who lead quiet, peaceful, tranquil lives, who mind their own business with great care, and who faithfully discharge their duties as they were, are going to show a lifestyle to the world that may make Christianity attractive. Isn’t that interesting?

Yes, that is very interesting. Are you a source of clamor to others? Or a source of peace? Something to think about.

dinghy

Do you have the peace that passes all understanding?

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

Even if the worst happens on our shores (war, earthquake, tsunami…) I have the peace that passes all understanding. He is in control and our anguish and our life is but a breath, so it will only be for a short time. I pray you have that peace as well. Barnes Notes explains the peace that passes all understanding so well.

Which passeth all understanding – That is, which surpasses all that people had conceived or imagined. The expression is one that denotes that the peace imparted is of the highest possible kind. The apostle Paul frequently used terms which had somewhat of a hyperbolical cast (see the notes on Ephesians 3:19; compare John 21:25, and the language here is that which one would use who designed to speak of that which was of the highest order. The Christian, committing his way to God, and feeling that he will order all things aright, has a peace which is nowhere else known. Nothing else will furnish it but religion. No confidence that a man can have in his own powers; no reliance which he can repose on his own plans or on the promises or fidelity of his fellow-men, and no calculations which he can make on the course of events, can impart such peace to the soul as simple confidence in God.

Are you saved? If so, then demonstrate that faith by clinging to Him, His promises, and His Truth. It is the best- the only- safe port in a storm! This is a great time in the United States to be peaceful, for others will see your calmness and through the grace of the Holy Spirit, they will ask you…”what is it that you have…?” and you will have the inestimable privilege of saying, “Let me tell you about Jesus…”

If you are not saved and you see someone who seems calm and graceful all the time, whose countenance seems glowing. (Exodus 35:35) it is because we have what Jesus has given us- His peace. We have been with God. We are no longer at war against Him but have become friends and sons of the Most High God. He imparts a peace that allows His children to look upon earthly circumstances with an eternal perspective.

Dear unsaved person, your good works are not enough to get you to heaven. Being really, really nice is not enough to get you to heaven. You can never do enough to get to heaven. The only way is through Jesus. You wonder what is it about Christians that makes them (us) seems o gentle and calm and they just look different? It’s His peace. The sin struggle is over. The unanswered questions about why we are here and how the world was born and why people are like they are…these questions are answered. Right now would be a good idea to start praying seriously to the Lord above to resolve your internal war. You are a God-hater, perhaps actively but certainly passively. Do you want peace and rest from always striving and yet not knowing? (2 Timothy 3:7). He will provide His peace, upon repentance and faith in His resurrected self.