“Hey, don’t blame me. I was born that way!” This famous excuse for bad behavior has a ring of truth to it, but it doesn’t carry any weight in the light of God’s truth and Holiness. Yes, we were born that way, that is, with a sinful nature.
It’s called “original sin” and it was handed down through the generations of people from every nation, every race and creed. It comes to us through Adam, who chose to break God’s law in the Garden of Eden. It’s human pride and arrogance. But we were born with it. We didn’t ask for it, but we got it just the same.
Adam’s fall causes original sin
Original sin brought on by Adam, exposes our moral corruption. Because of Adam’s fall, we are denied our original righteousness and with that comes a propensity to allow evil to enter our lives. That evil, is the root of all sin(disobedience to God).
The Apostle Paul described the sin of the flesh as lust, ignorance, blindness and at the heart of our alienation from God. We are born with original sin, which is like the proverbial monkey on our back, but Jesus Christ offers the way out of that sin. Again, Paul explains it well.
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.
For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. (Romans 6:11-14)
We all know right from wrong
Unrepentant sin is a killer. That newborn baby comes into this world with original sin, but the child is not accountable for that sin. God will not judge and punish a baby.
Children at various ages, will come to the age of accountability. They will know what sin is and the consequences of it. They learn to take responsibility for their own actions.
God is just. That means that He is perfect and will not make mistakes. His love for us renders countless chances to make things right with Him.
Woe to those whose hardened hearts will not tolerate the grace of God. They deny the sin in their lives, or worse yet, embrace their bad behavior in a defiant stand against God.
Most things we cannot control
There are so many things in life we have no control over. Did we chose our parents or when and where we are born? How long will we live? Do we get to chose our race, or our gender, or how tall we are?
When we begin to make our own choices, against the will of God, who made us what we are, it leads to separation from the one who loves us the most. Our sin nature, that original sin, kicks in and we cause our own misery.
We didn’t ask to be sinful creatures. Yes, we were born that way. Live with it and learn how to accept God’s mercy and grace.
The meaning of baptism depends largely on what Christian denomination is answering the question. Baptism comes from the Greek word “baptisma,” the act of immersion, submersion and emergence from water. The root is “bapto,” meaning “to dip.”
In the New Testament of the Bible, we see this word used in reference to the ministry of John the Baptist. John, Jesus’ cousin, started his ministry shortly before Christ to alert everyone that the Messiah, Jesus, was coming. John baptized many people in the name of Jesus and ultimately baptized Jesus.
For some churches baptism is also called christening
In churches, we see varying forms of baptism. For most traditional Christian denominations, baptism is done shortly after birth by the sprinkling water over the forehead of an infant. Some denominations hold to the belief that baptism washes away “original sin,” and therefore is necessary to protect a newborn. It may be called a “christening.”
Some churches use this to make the infant a member of the church, that is they are baptized into the church.
Evangelical churches don’t baptize infants
Evangelical denominations or non-denominational churches hold to a more literal approach to the subject, meaning that believers are baptized in a public display of faith, by full immersion.
In this form of baptism, it requires the acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior. It is a decision, a choice made by a person of their own free-will. The age of the person is not the issue, the full understanding of what they are doing is the point.
Baptism can refer to the suffering of Jesus on the cross
Another use of the word refers to the suffering and agony of Jesus on the cross. Jesus told his disciples:
“But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed!” (Luke 12:50)
He took on the entire sins of the world and paid the price for man’s transgressions. He was immersed in that suffering. We see this referenced in Matthew when Jesus rebukes the mother of two of his disciples.
Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons (James and John) came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”
“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” (Matt 20:20-23)
Christ spoke the truth explaining His sacrifice
Christ’s answer to a loving mother might seem harsh, but as the old saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for.” Jesus knew his end was coming and the tremendous pain and suffering that was essential for paying the price of man’s sins.
Jesus anticipated what was coming in that dreadful sequence of events. From the surging, to carrying the cross through the streets of Jerusalem, and then to being nailed to the cross. Christ’s “baptism” on the cross was necessary and something that only He could accomplish. We can only identify with that baptism, to recognize the horror of that day.
Washing one’s self also a form of baptism
Forms of baptism also include the washing of one’s self. John the baptist told his followers to repent and be baptized in order that they might receive salvation. Again, this is a public confession. Baptism for the remission of sins.
In Christian practice, one would confess sins, ask forgiveness and receive Christ as Lord and Savior, then go through baptism. That is why many Christians enjoy baptism Sundays at their church. They celebrate the entry of a believer into the family.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites experienced a kind of baptism, crossing the Red Sea, with huge walls of water on each side, under the cloud of God leading the way.
Some belief that baptism washes away sin, while, others will maintain that only the blood of Jesus can wash away sin. One interpretation is more ceremonial, while the the other, the blood of Christ, is quite literal. Jesus shed his blood for the forgiveness of sins.
Faith in Christ critical
Whatever way you see it, the key is faith. Without faith in Christ, baptism is meaningless.
From a Biblical perspective, salvation is a gift. It is mentioned 122 times in Scripture, but it is never talked about in terms of something that is deserved, or purchased, or earned. In some churches people talk about salvation in terms of being “saved,” but being given salvation and being saved are the same thing.
Christianity is the only faith that offers assurance of salvation. Simply stated, salvation, or being saved, means a person has come to the realization that they are a sinner, destined for an eternity separated from God. They are in a helpless and indefensible state.
They’re guilty as charged and they know it. They understand the ugliness of their sin, in comparison to God, who is Holy, glorious and perfect. People, having sinned, have nowhere to hide. But the gift of salvation is offered.
All have sinned and fall short of the glory God.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23-7:1)
Salvation is God’s gift of eternal life
The gift of eternal life is salvation. Being saved is knowing you can go to heaven when you die. Free from the bondage of sin. Saved people will live forever in God’s Kingdom. There is no catch, but salvation is not a “get out of jail free” card.
Coming clean with God means confessing our sins and repenting. Repent means to change, to “turn around.” We seek to cast off our sinful human nature and walk with God. Having repented, a person must turn to the only one who can save them from hell, the Lord Jesus Christ.
They accept Jesus as their savior
Acknowledging that Jesus suffered and died on the cross, in their place, they accept Him as Lord and Savior. They invite Jesus into their heart to direct their life. Coming clean means a person has to be open and honest with God and themselves.
Going through the motions, trying to get off without punishment, is not a strategy, because God, being all knowing, will have none of it. A young man wanted to know what HE had to do to be saved. He did not like the answer Jesus gave him.
As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good — except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.'”
“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said.
“Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. (Mark 10:17-22)
Jesus knows what is in our heart
Jesus does not require that people give up all that they own, but He does know what is in their heart. The young man could not buy his way in, but it was obvious that he valued his wealth and wanted to hang on to his money.
As for keeping the commandments, the young man did not fool Jesus. Again, all have sinned. We all have broken the commandments in one way of another. If a person did keep all the commandments and lived a perfect, sinless life, they would be welcomed in heaven.
The trouble is, nobody has ever done that, except for Jesus. Having lived a sinless life, Jesus was the only one who could go to the cross to save those to believed in Him and had faith. God made His son, who was without sin, the bearer of all the world’s sins, past, present and future.
Salvation means going to heaven
For those who believe in God, salvation means going to heaven. For those who do not believe in God, or do not believe in an after-life, salvation might mean cleaning up your act before you die.
Most religions of the world focus on personal deeds as a means of salvation. Those who believe in reincarnation talk of an upward journey from life-to-life, as the soul tries to cleans itself, through living many lives.
Christianity is different. Religion is all about what man can do to make himself acceptable to God. Christianity is all about what God did to make man acceptable. Jesus paid the price we could not. We are saved by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus.
Establishing that true and lasting relationship is essential. Faith unto salvation. Praise be to God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The wages of sin is death: So many things in the Bible can be hard to understand if we don’t have the proper frame of reference. Because the Bible’s 66 books are one contiguous story. A lot of our “why” questions can only be fully understood if we have knowledge of how events came about.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “The wages if sin is death…” (Romans 6:23a). A wage is something you get as a result of an action. People get a paycheck for the work they have done on behalf of their employer.
“Wages of sin” is easily explained as something you get for an action you have taken against God and more specifically “Sin” is an action we take against the will of God. That’s why there is the 10 Commandments, which is a basic series of statements outlining God’s will for our lives.
Not to over complicate this, but sins, large and small, all carry the same weight. If a person says “I wish that guy was dead,” from God’s view, it is the same as killing him. Just the act of thinking about ending the life of any other person is the same as actually doing it. If you’re really honest, through thought, word or deed, we have all broken all of the commandments.
Some don’t believe in sin
People easily dismiss “sin” or deny there is any such thing as sin. God’s word disagrees with that. The the third chapter of the first book of the Bible, Genesis, we see clearly the first sin committed.
In the Book of Revelation, the last book in the Bible, we see God’s final answer to man’s turning away from Him. It is a horrifying account of God’s wrath being poured out. Yet even in the midst of His wrath, there is a precious and tender account of God’s grace and love. Saving those who turn to Him and acknowledge who He is and what He has done for them.
Two ways into heaven
Entry into heaven is very simple. There are two ways. You can obey God’s 10 Commandments to the letter, every moment of your life and never break one. Ya right. Nobody but Jesus has ever obeyed all the commandments.
Here we are, standing before a perfect, holy and righteous God, who is all powerful and the creator of the universe and we’re going to look Him in the eye and tell Him He’s wrong? Tell Him that we didn’t sin?
All the great people we read about in the Bible were all seriously flawed. The prophets of the Old Testament, the Apostles are all just human and they did sin. They all fell short, no matter how hard they might have tried or how close they might have come, they’re were sinners. Without the gift of God, they’d all be in hell.
Jesus is the second way to heaven
The second way to heaven is through the gift of God in His son Jesus. From Genesis to Malachi in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), man failed. Therefore, being human, we are in an absolutely hopeless and helpless state.
God sent His son to fulfill all of the righteous requirements of His Law. In short, what we cannot do ourselves, God did for us. All we need do is admit that we aren’t perfect, admit that we sin. Accept that we need forgiveness from God. He offers all of us a free gift. When we acknowledge His gift, we receive life everlasting. Jesus, who died on the cross, paid the penalty for our sins.
God wants us to accept His gift
God does not desire that any person should perish. But sin, turning away from God, must be punished. The wages of sin is death according to God’s law. God is perfect and righteous, but if He did not punish sin, He would not be perfectly just. Therefore, while offering the gift of life through faith in Jesus, He warns us of His wrath.
Sin is ugly, nasty and ungodly. God must and will eradicate it. God desires to save us all. Jesus said:
“For God so loved the world that whosoever believes in Him, shall not parish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
God gently shows us the way to avoid an endless, eternal state of pain and suffering… the wages of sin. It is an offer of endless love and affection. It is a wonderful alternative to an unspeakable fate.
God knows we are guilty offers amnesty
Let’s put it another way. You go before a judge. The prosecutor lays out the truth, a fact-driven, ironclad case. You are guilty. You know it, the judge knows it. The judge passes sentence, either a long prison term or an enormous fine, so great you could never pay it.
The judge passes sentence. Then he stands up, removes the judge’s robe and walks around the desk and stands next to you. The judge reaches into the pocket of the rope and comes up with the huge amount of money to pay the fine. Justice has been served and the penalty is paid in full. That is what God offers us to pay the wages of our sin. Again, what we can’t do, God does through Jesus.
The Gospel of John describes sin and redemption
God’s tells us of His gift in the Bible. The Gospel of John is a good place to start your own research into wages of sin. Also, Paul has a lengthy dissertation on wages of sin and the human condition in the Book of Romans. We are all encouraged to examine God’s word to gain a deeper understanding of His law and gifts.
What is sin? Sin is a sensitive subject. It exposes the dark side of humanity and it’s not a subject people want to talk about freely, unless of course it’s not about them.
Whether sin is committed in some outward conduct, or by the inner state of a person’s soul; whether by commission or omission, sin simply stated is an offense against our Holy, righteous, personal, moral and just God.
We can hide our sins from others, but God created us with a conscience, so even if no one but else knows, the truth is that we know. Humans have an inner sense of right and wrong. Why? God put it there.
God gave us free will to choose
He also gave man a free will, to make choices. Sin is intrinsically vile. If you were making an omelet and every egg you put in was good, it would be ruined if you pout in a rotten one.
The free will that God gave us was quickly tested in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), when Eve took the fruit and ate it, then gave some to Adam. God had instructed them not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Good and Evil. But the serpent (Satan) deceived Eve and tricked her into breaking God’s law.
God did not create sin, but our free will allows us to make choices. Adam and Eve chose to turn away from God. God does not force Himself on us. By disobeying the law, Adam and Eve became enemies of God. They chose to believe the lies of the serpent against the truth of the Creator. Their actions broke the bond. Sin entered the world and the consequences were drastic.
Understanding our own sin is critical
Sin is something we really don’t want to have to deal with. But coming to grips with our own sins is the key to restoring a right relationship with God. The Apostle Paul left nothing to the imagination in the Book of Romans. In Chapter 3, verse 23 he writes,
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Three chapters later in verse 23 he completes the thought when he warns,
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Jesus restores us and forgives ours sins
Sin leads to death, but Jesus Christ is there to offer salvation. It’s serious business. Those who have not accepted the gift, or have not heard the good news, are like walking dead. Their body is alive, but their spirit is dead.
Jesus offers living water, forgiveness and salvation for those to accept Him and accept the gift. There is a second death, however, when people take their last breath not accepting, or outright rejecting God’s gift.
There is nowhere to go, no reprieve. The second death means an eternal separation from God in a dark and painful place. Over and over God offers His mercy. Over and over, by His grace we are allowed to go about our business, all the while God extends His hand to us. Sin will be forever defeated if only a person turns to God, ask forgiveness and accepts Christ as Lord and Savior.
God does not allow sin in His presence
Sin is ugly and God does not allow sin in His presence. Our sins are covered if we accept Christ as our Lord. Jesus bled and died on the cross to pay the penalty for all sins, past present and future. That great act of love demands action on our part.
But some will continue to reject God, not believing that the consequences of rejecting the leading of God’s Holy Spirit will lead to that second death. In a sense, God does not condemn anyone. They condemn themselves.
Knowing that man is sinful and cannot save himself, God the Father offered His only Son to come to earth and pay the penalty for all of our sin. It’s “Amazing Grace” God doesn’t lie. His judgments are perfect.
We fall into the ditch with no way out. God extends a hand to get us out. Rejecting His grace and compassion is, to be blunt, just extraordinarily foolish. God does want to forgive us of our sins, big and small. There is only one sin which will not be forgiven.
And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. (Matthew 12:31)
God dearly loves you!
The Good News is you are dearly loved by God, sins and all. He calls out to you right now to accept His gift of salvation in Jesus Christ. The ugliness of sin is washed clean. You are set free.
You are then offered the opportunity to walk with Jesus, learn His lessons and most importantly, help others to accept God’s saving grace. It’s free. You and I don’t deserve salvation, we can’t pay the penalty, so we stand there, empty handed with no defense.
The deep, deep love of Jesus is our ticket to heaven. Just as sin is ugly, not accepting God’s love and gift is worse. Don’t chose to reject God. Let Him love you.
How would you describe the Bible?: Car enthusiasts purchase a manual for a specific model for the expressed purpose of refurbishing or repairing the vehicle. It has all the right settings and details every aspect of the car from the engine, to chassis, to body. It’s everything you need to know to take care of the car and have a happy outcome.
Well, think of the Bible the same way. Instead of the automobile, the Bible is a manual for the human condition.
The Bible took 1400 years to write
Unlike other “how to” manuals, the Bible was written over a 1400 year span, by over 40 different authors. The amazing thing about these authors is that they didn’t know each other, except in a few cases. It’s all one, contiguous story, miraculously inspired by God to serve as a guidebook to bring all of us into a personal relationship with Him.
It includes some amazing predictions (prophesies), many of which have already come true, while others are forecast for the future. The writers agree with each other and all of the themes of the story never change.
For example, King David, the writer of so many of the Psalms, described the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ 500 years before it happened. The prophet Isiah did the same, only 700 years before it happened. Both of them wrote with remarkable detail. That wasn’t an accident.
The Bible has an old and new testament
The Bible has 66 books. There are 39 books in the Hebrew Bible, otherwise known as the Old Testament, and 27 books in the New Testament. There was a 400-year gap between the last book in the Hebrew Bible, Malachi, and the birth of Jesus. The books of the New Testament were written years after the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Jews and Christians talk of their Bibles being written by divine inspiration. The Apostle Paul wrote,
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16)
Divine inspiration? God-breathed? I once did a sermon on that very subject. I took a lady out of the congregation and asked her if she knew anything about an race cars. She knew nothing at all.
I then told her that I would whisper in her ear everything that I wanted the people to know. Also, she was told to tell it in her own words and not just parrot what I said. To her credit, she did fine.
That is much like what God did in getting the Bible written. The 40 plus writers were guided by God’s Holy Spirit and wrote it down, in their own words, with their own style and personality. God’s personal participation also ensures that the Bible is accurate.
Revelation actually mirrors Daniel
From book-to-book, passage after passage, the Bible is an amazing work. The last book in the Bible, Revelation, for example, lines up perfectly with prophesy from the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament. So much so that seminaries teach a Daniel/Revelation course. They were written more than 500 years apart.
The Bible not just a history book
While the Bible has information about history and science, it is not just a history or a science book. The Book of Genesis (the beginning) includes an account of how the universe came into an existence.
Genesis, however, does not tell us how God did it, nor does it share exact times when things occurred. That is all by design, because God wants us to accept Him at His word, by faith. We cannot prove the existence of God, therefore we must accept Him by faith. He encourages us to “seek” Him. In fact He does that 128 times.
While there is a lot of instruction in the Bible. God’s book is not intended to be taken as a list of dos and don’ts. Instead, it is intended to invite us to follow it and allow God to guide us into a close, loving relationship with Him.
There are many versions of the Bible
There are many versions of the Bible. People can choose what version they like. The King James version, written in the 1700s, can be difficult to read because language changes over time and old English is hard to follow sometimes.
Some versions, like the New International Version (NIV) are written in modern English. Either way, they say the same thing. If you really want to pick the most accurate version, for the New Testament, read it in the original Greek. The Old Testament was written primarily in Hebrew, but with some of it in Aramaic.
In closing, the Bible was written for you. It’s purpose is to draw you to God. Accept that by faith and start your journey.
Who is God?: I cannot prove the existence of God. I also cannot prove that He doesn’t exist. Neither can anybody else. But the Bible teaches us that He does reveal Himself, through His creation, through signs and wonders, through history and in countless other ways.
For some it is all the proof they need. For others, these things are coincidental occurrences. The debate is as old as time.
God cannot be seen
We cannot see God. He is spirit. Perhaps He is pure energy, pure logic or intellect. With that would come being all powerful. When did God start? I don’t know.
There are so many unanswered questions, which leads me to the conclusion that we accept the existence of God by faith, not necessarily by fact. Religion aside, most every human being on earth has a sense of God, or something bigger then themselves.
Some groups of people express their faith in God by having a deep respect for nature. They are trying to explain what they cannot prove or deny. They search.
I was once told by a man that until God spoke to him personally, in a clear audible voice, he would never believe in God. It doesn’t work that way.
The Bible revealsHim to us
For many of us, He has revealed Himself through the pages of the Bible. There is much of the Bible that is honestly beyond my understanding. But because Scripture is spiritually discerned, you’re not supposed to understand everything until the correct time comes for you.
It’s like being spoon fed. You sip, then you chew solid food, then you gobble it up. Your mind opens up and that which you couldn’t understand yesterday, or for years, suddenly becomes clear and simple. It’s quite an adventure.
The Bible tells us about the God of Abraham
Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the God of Abraham. Jews and Christians worship the God of Abraham, Issac (his son) and Jacob (his grandson), following the history of His chosen people the Jews. The Hebrew Bible follows God’s chosen people through their captivity in Egypt, to their exodus to the promised land.
Christians worship the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, through the establishment of Israel, and the succession of Kings. But it was through King David, that the Chosen One, Jesus the Messiah came. The New Testament of the Bible describes when God was made man in the form of Jesus of Nazareth. Christians worship God through Jesus.
Jews and Muslims do not recognize Jesus as the Son of God and the savior of mankind. They might call him a prophet, a good man, a rabbi (teacher), but they stop there and do not consider him God.
The Bible is God’s word and it is perfect
For Christian and Jewish believers, all of God’s word in the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, is perfect and essential to understanding. The Old Testament of the Bible describes who He is. It further describes how God sees the world and mankind. It unfolds in the history of the Jewish people, starting with Abraham and through the ages. Then, for Christians, the New Testament describes Jesus. It is one, contiguous story.
However, for Jews, the story ends at Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament. Jews believe their Messiah will yet come and they wait. Even though Jesus came as a Jew, most Jews do not believe He was their promised Messiah.
The Bible mentions only Jews and Gentiles not Christians
There are no Christians mentioned in the Bible, only Jews and Gentiles(everyone who is not Jewish). Both Jews and Gentiles can be followers of Jesus. Christians are Gentiles who follow Christ and recognize Jesus as God and as their savior.
Accepting the Bible by faith helps us to understand
We cannot prove God exists, so we can only accept Him and His word and His Messiah by faith. Jews have their beliefs, Muslims have theirs and Christians have theirs.
The three faith groups may start with Abraham, but they go in different directions. Sadly, any rift between Jews and Christians centers on the true identity of Jesus of Nazareth. Christians, however, accept and believe every word of the Jewish Bible. Three religions. Three completely different understandings.
You must walk your own path to understanding
In the final analysis, trying the prove the existence of God is beyond my ability. I can tell you what I believe, what I have heard and read and experienced in the Bible. But you have your own path to walk.
What is Heaven? Imagine a moment in time that was so perfect, so beautiful, so satisfying that you never wanted it to end. For many it was when their children were born, or when they fell in love with their spouse, or when a wave of good fortune came their way, giving them warmth, purpose and satisfaction.
Whatever that moment is for you, keep it in your head. Now take every moment like that and embrace it. Now ask, what if this wonderful feeling would never go away? Amplify this amazing moment to something approaching infinity and even more glorious and powerful. That is what heaven is like.
Please forgive my human inadequacy, but I cannot come close to describing God’s glory. My ability to comprehend is limited by my human condition, so I rely on the Bible to open my mind enough to understand a few things.
How the Bible describes heaven
Going through the 422 mentions of heaven in the Bible, we see some interesting facts that give us a more complete understanding. For example, when you see “heaven and earth” in the narrative, it is referring to the entire universe.
There are several meanings of heaven in Hebrew (the old testament of the Bible), which include heights or high places. Additionally, Jesus calls it His father’s house. It is the eternal Kingdom, where the righteous will dwell with God forever.
Unlike some other world religions that describe a place where people enjoy earthly pleasures of the flesh, the Bible focuses on the glory of God. It is a place where the faithful have an everlasting holy and personal relationship with the Almighty.
Imagine being face-to-face with God the Father and the Lord Jesus in paradise. Imagine a place where there is no church, no temple, because God is right there with us, all the time.
Our Father who is in heaven
Our ideas of heaven are abstract. But it is a place. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus begins, “Our Father who is in heaven…” It is place where Angels dwell. When they are sent to earth, it is from Heaven and the throne of God that their journey begins.
“Heaven” can also be another name for God. At the end of time, God will surround the earth, and truly heaven and earth will be the same.
Just the shining of God
Imagine no night, just the glory of God shining. Imagine no clouds, because there is no need of clouds, because the rain they bring flows as founts of living water from the throne of God. There will be no more sickness, no more pain and death.
Heaven is the ultimate utopia. It never ends. It is the place where the believers of all ages, those who have accepted God’s gift of salvation through faith in Christ, will enjoy endless happiness and fulfillment with their creator.
Many people don’t believe in a place called hell. The idea that God would condemn a person to an eternity of pain and suffering is incomprehensible to most people. It sounds excessive. But to understand this never-ending sentence, we must first understand the ugly side of human nature.
The Apostle Paul wrote that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) He later added “The wages of sin is death… (Romans 6:23). It’s one thing for the body to stop functioning, but it is quite another for the soul and spirit to suffer the consequences of bad decisions and a refusal to follow God. That is the second death, an eternal separation from God in a place of torment and suffering.
Many people refuse to believe in hell
The Bible teaches us about hell, yet many people refuse believe in hell. The sentence of an eternity in hell reflects two opposite realities– the ugliness of sin, man’s turning away from and rejecting the love of God, and the absolute beauty, holiness and perfection of God.
God is patient. The world is living under grace right now. God allows us to exercise our free will, make decisions. But at the same time, out of love, God reaches out to us, offering His gift of life through Christ.
We must freely choose God
God wants us to accept his gift, but it has to be out choice. The gift of eternal life is free, but it must be received openly and willingly. Understand that God created a perfect world, but man, through sin, poisoned it. There is death, destruction and suffering, all caused by man rejecting God. God allows this—to a point.
God will withdraw His grace in the future. God’s offer, while still available to us, will be made more difficult to grasp because of man’s own evil actions. . He will unleash His wrath and the world will change dramatically. Vengeance for all sins will be put into motion. Still, even through those terrible days, people will continue to accept the gift and be spared from an eternity of suffering.
What happens when I die?
A common question is, “What happens when I die.” The Bible is very clear in answering this question; no shades of gray, no ambiguities. There are only two groups of people—those who believe in Jesus Christ and have put their faith in Him for salvation. The others are nonbelievers, who reject the gift of God and have chosen to separate themselves from Him.
According to the Bible, hell is the place where people who reject the Gospel, the good news of salvation by faith in Christ, will go after they die. But there stages, as follows:
For those who reject the gift, Hades awaits them.
Hades would be the first stop. Luke 16 describes this place, also called Sheol or Torments. Think of Hades as a holding cell, where prisoners are taken before their trial. There are no creature comforts. Their trial comes at the end of Christ’s “millennial” reign, a thousand year period when Jesus shall rule the world, without interference. After that reign, once and for all time, sin will be dealt with.
From Hades, they will face their maker the final judgement.
Jesus explained hell this way in a parable.
The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.”
But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
Then he said to his servants, “The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.”
So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, “How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?”
The man was speechless. 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. For many are invited, but few are chosen. (Matthew 22:1-14)
We are all invited to the banquet. In John 3:16, Jesus told Nicodemus, “Whosoever believes in HIM shall not perish but have everlasting life.” We are free to accept the gift and to reject it, but Luke has a warning in his Gospel.
But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. (Luke 12:5)
God is love and He is also just
God is indeed a God of love, but He also a just God. This means that every judgment God makes is perfect and proper. Hell was created as a place of eternal punishment for evil. This punishment must be handed out, otherwise, God would not be just. He would not be doing as He said He would do. The sentence is absolute. There will be no parole.
It’s hard for people to understand that heaven, the gift of eternal life, cannot be bought. People cannot earn it by doing good deeds. It is only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that the gates are open.
Through Jesus’ sacrifice—His crucifixion, burial and resurrection, through our confession of our sins and asking for God’s forgiveness, that our relationship with God is secure.
Paradise or Hell
Those who lived and died before the time of Christ’s death and resurrection, and who were good in God’s sight, would go to “paradise.” Imagine yourself suddenly in the lobby of a great hotel. It is spectacular, with all of the comforts, only, that hotel is only a temporary stop. As wonderful as it is, the best is yet to come. It was the promise Jesus made to the thief on the cross.
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:42,43)
The thief, like those who died before him, could not go to heaven, because the final “payment” had not yet been made. It was the shedding of Yeshua’s blood that cleansed believers from all unrighteousness and thus made them acceptable to God. When Jesus died, our sin debt was marked “paid in full.”
Hell,as described on Revelation 14, is entirely avoidable. God offers life through His son, Jesus. In a sense, God does not send anyone to Hell. They send themselves. They refuse the gift.
This question has one of the simplest answers in the Bible. But it is sometimes complicated to the point of people missing the point entirely. Gospel means “good news.” So the good news is about the Messiah and an invitation to enter into an eternal relationship with God.
The easiest and most straight forward answer comes from the Lord Jesus Christ. He said “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
Jesus is the good news of the Bible
Believing in Jesus means believing that He is the Messiah. Who has come to take the sins of the world on His shoulders and offer His life on the cross. This is good news. Because all of us are sinners. We have broken the commandments, all of them, and are destined for eternal separation from God (hell).
It’s good news because Jesus took all of that and took the blame for our sins. Imagine the entirety of the sins of all people, past, present and future! The bad news is that without Jesus you’re doomed. The good news you are offered an everlasting life in God’s Kingdom.
The Gospel is simple
It’s really that simple. A child can understand it. We sometimes get caught up in wanting to pay our own way. Trying to buy our salvation, to deserve it, or earn it. We can’t. Only Jesus could/can pay that price.
It’s not that you are any worse or better than I am. The Apostle Paul said “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). Also, He later wrote: “For the wages of sin is death, but the GIFT of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23)
People trip over the idea that mere faith can make the difference between heaven and hell. God’s grace is what spares us, not our goodness, our deeds or any other earthy quality.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)
We must turn to Him for EVERYTHING!
It is God’s plan that we turn to Him for everything. If we can’t earn it, or buy it. There isn’t any other means wash our sins away, who are we to trust and turn to?
It is our belief, by faith, that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again from the grave and now sits at the right hand of God the Father. Therefore, there is no way to prove this, so, by design, God calls us to accept this important truth by faith.