FACING THE CONSEQUENCES

FACING THE CONSEQUENCES Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

There are two consequences of our behavior: our state of being and our environment. Christians are familiar with the consequences of our behavior in terms of environment—Paradise, Hell, the Lake of Fire, the outer darkness. Perhaps we are not as familiar with the consequences of our behavior in terms of a state of being, such as love, peace, respect, remorse, a disgusting appearance; and yet the consequences of our behavior as related to our state of being may prove to be more important than that of environment.

FACING THE CONSEQUENCES

"From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me," says the LORD. "And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind." (Isaiah 66:23,24)

There are two consequences of our behavior: our state of being and our environment. Christians are familiar with the consequences of our behavior in terms of environment—Paradise, Hell, the Lake of Fire, the outer darkness. Perhaps we are not as familiar with the consequences of our behavior in terms of a state of being, such as love, peace, respect, remorse, a disgusting appearance; and yet the consequences of our behavior as related to our state of being may prove to be more important than that of environment.

Notice the passage above. All mankind will go out and look at the dead bodies of those who refused God’s offer of forgiveness and deliverance through Christ.

Here we see the consequences of behavior in terms of a state of being, although the environment is not as clear. The state of being of the dead bodies is that they are loathsome to all mankind. This is a consequence of their behavior.

Are there conscious personalities in these dead bodies? The passage doesn’t say.

Which brings the most distress, do you think—their loathsome state of being or their environment?

It is difficult to determine what the above environment is. Are the dead bodies in rows on the ground? Are they in the Lake of Fire? Are they in the bottomless pit? Are they in Hell?

The passage does not tell us clearly about their environment, but it certainly is not Paradise. What is important is that their behavior has resulted in their being loathsome—causing mankind to be repelled by them, to view them as abhorrent, as disgusting.

Do you see what I mean when I say the state of being may be more important than the environment? We may think of Hell or the Lake of Fire as being terrible consequences of our behavior. But how about being regarded with disgust by the rest of mankind?

I would like to point out that our traditional emphasis on a tormenting environment is in agreement with some of the other world religions. However, I do not know of any other religion that points toward a consequence that focuses on abhorrence or remorse, that is, on a personal distress that would be true even in a paradisiacal environment.

There is a reality that is true of the Kingdom of God and of the spirit world that I believe is sometimes lacking in our thinking and attitude. Christianity is unlike other religions. There is more to it than going to Paradise or Hell when we die. There is the whole range of the results of human conduct has to do more with what we are as a person than with the environment in which we are placed.

It is not uncommon for Christian people who have never gained victory over their sinful nature to suppose if they have made a profession of faith in Christ, when they die they will go to a heaven in which they walk up and down on streets of gold. This belief is drawn from the description of the holy city, in the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation. But what if they still had a sinful, self-seeking nature? Would they be happy then?

Let us say a particular believer is a gossip and tends to cause division in the assembly. Some of the congregants find this person disgusting. Yet, he believes in Jesus Christ. He is on his way to Heaven.

He grows old and dies, and to his dying moment is a gossip and critical of other people. Is this uncommon among older church people? Do they suddenly become winsome personalities when they come under the supervision of a hospice? It has not been my experience that they do. In fact, as they grow older they are less able to conceal the bitterness and jealousy that always have been part of their personality.

So the unchanged Christians die. Now what? Our tradition says they go to be with Jesus and walk on streets of gold.

But what kind of person are they while they are walking on the streets of gold? They are bitter, divisive slanderers. What would change them? Leaving their body in the coffin? I don’t think so. The actions of our sinful nature are spiritual in origin. They were not created in Adam and Eve as part of mankind. They came to us from the spirit realm, so there is no reason to suppose they remain with our body in the coffin.

How will Jesus and His saints enjoy this gossiping believer? Do you believe these holy people will enjoy the company of the gossiper? No more so than do their acquaintances on the earth.

If such is the case, if physical death does not change us, then we are going to have to revise our concept of salvation, of how Christ regards us while in the present world, and what we will experience when we die.

While I am speaking of behavior, I would like to emphasize that behavior is behavior, whether we are alive on the earth or in the spirit realm. Sin began in the spirit realm. I am hoping through this essay I will be able to give the reader an awareness that the spirit realm is all around us and it is a real world—more real, in fact, than our physical world in that the people and things are not molecular and transitory, but spiritual and eternal.

As I said, behavior is behavior. Our traditional thinking is that once we die and pass into the spirit realm our state of being will change dramatically. This is not so, apparently. It is true that our environment will change, but what we are, we are.

I know of no passage of Scripture that suggests our personality will change when we die. Do you?

In fact, the opposite may be implied in the following passages from First Peter:

For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, Through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison Who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, (I Peter 3:18-20)

If Christ, after His crucifixion, entered the prison that exists under the earth’s surface, as far as we know, and preached to the disobedient multitudes who perished in the flood of Noah, then we have to revise our concept of what takes place in the spirit world.

Perhaps some believe Christ told the prisoners they all were going to be placed in the Lake of Fire because of their disobedience. This does not make sense to me. I think Christ gave them an opportunity to come to Him and receive eternal life, just as He did the thief on the cross. Why not? Can you think of any reason why not?

Can people receive Christ in the spirit world? Evidently. If not, how would the righteous of the old covenant enter the Kingdom of God? We cannot enter the Kingdom of God until we are born again, and no person was born again until Christ rose from the dead. He is the Firstborn from the dead.

If Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are in the Kingdom of God, then they were born again in the spirit world after Christ rose from the dead.

My point is that the physical world and the spirit world are two halves of the same world. The spirit world is invisible to us in the physical world. I would not be surprised at all if the physical world is visible to those in the spirit world, at least to some people in the spirit world.

I have noticed in my lifetime that there is a blessing on the children and grandchildren of those who were faithful in prayer during their life. I think this blessing results in part from the continuing prayer and oversight on the part of the deceased, and also is their reward for faithful service. They see the results of the travail of their soul and are satisfied. I know this is true of the Lord Jesus.

Conversely, those believers who have wasted their life on the things of the world, not bearing the fruit God had ordained for them, not leading their children in the way of righteousness, will suffer the unbearable remorse of seeing their children deceived and corrupted by Satan.

I know also that the Bride of the Lamb is going to be without spot or wrinkle. This is not true of most believers who die. They have never attained this goal. So it must be that believers are taught, judged, and delivered while in the spirit world, just as they are on the earth.

Let me issue a brief disclaimer. This does not mean we can waste the Lord’s time in this world and make up for it in the next. There is a Kingdom principle that declares those who are faithful in the lesser will be entrusted with the greater. The ones who are permitted to press forward in the spirit world are those who have been faithful to what they were given in the present world. The unfaithful have their Kingdom gifts removed from them and given to another, while they are sent into the outer darkness.

But to return to our thought of people being taught, judged, and delivered after they die:

But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit. (I Peter 4:5,6)

Peter informs us that Christ is ready to judge the living and the dead. This means the Judgment Seat of Christ has been in session for more than 2,000 years.

The fourth chapter of First Peter describes how the living are judged. Fiery trials come our way to save us from our sins. So perverse and devious is our sinful nature that we are saved with difficulty, even though we are obedient throughout our painful testings. Read the whole fourth chapter of I Peter and see if I have interpreted it correctly.

But Peter says the Gospel was preached to those who are now dead, undoubtedly referring to the disobedient multitudes who drowned in the flood of Noah. They are judged as though they were alive in their body, even though they are living in the spirit world. Is this what it says?

Well, if the dead are judged as we are, this means they suffer painful trials that they might be separated from their worldliness, lusts, and self-will the same as we.

How can the dead be worldly, lustful, and self-willed?

Why not? Our physical body is morally neutral. Yet Paul says we have a sinful nature that dwells in the members of our body. Since the body is nothing more than an assortment of chemicals, we conclude that the sinful nature comes from Satan. In fact, John says "he who commits sin is of the devil."

Beyond all question, Satan and his demons, who urge us to sin, are not of the flesh but of the spirit world. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against spiritual lords in the heavens. Therefore physical weapons are useless.

All of this being evident, the dead can suffer from worldliness, lust, and self-will, even though they have no physical body.

We know self-will originated in the spirit realm around the very Throne of God, as Satan sought preeminence. Self-will is the source of all the activities of our sinful nature. Why should dying remove our self-will?

Adam and Eve were created without a sinful nature. But they were provoked to sin by a creature of the spirit world.

On the basis of the above, we are maintaining that life moves forward after we die. The body sleeps in its place of interment, but the conscious life of the individual continues.

If I am not mistaken, the people of the world whom God intends to save will rest in the spirit realm after they die. But I am not as certain this is true of the members of the Church, the Body of Christ. Since the New Testament states the Bride of the Lamb is to be spotless, and without doubt this is not true of most church people who die, we ought to consider the possibility that their instruction continues in the spirit world—that is, if they have been faithful in the light given to them while alive on the earth. The Bible is clear that those who neglect their salvation will be punished.

The point of the present essay is that what we are, we are, and there are consequences for all that we do. The kind of personality we have depends on the choices we make, and there is no escaping the consequences of our choices. The problem with the present Christian teaching is that it leaves the impression that somehow physical death, or the coming of the Lord, will change what we are as a person. This is not at all true. There is no scriptural basis for such a dramatic change, except for the instantaneous change of the bodies of the victorious saints when the Lord appears.

This is why the current teaching of the "rapture" is so misleading. The concept is that suddenly we will be caught up to Heaven and dwell in peace and joy. Yet many of the American Christians who trust in the rapture to deliver them are quite immature. They have never denied themselves, taken up their cross, and followed the Lord. What kind of reception do they suppose they would have if they were caught up into the presence of Christ and His Apostles?

If the Lord comes before they die, if they have been living in victory they will receive a transformed body and be caught up to meet Christ in the air in preparation for the Battle of Armageddon. If they have not been living in victory they will not be transformed and caught up to meet the Lord in the air, for this would be against the statements of the New Testament concerning the need to live in spiritual victory.

Can you see how reasonable and practical all this is? Our Christian teaching concerning death, Heaven, the return of the Lord, is largely traditional and mythological, being patterned after Eastern religions.

One of my favorite passages is as follows:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7,8)

I think the above is referring to states of being rather than environment.

If we live to please the Spirit of God, then, in the Day of Resurrection (if not before) we will reap eternal life. This means we will be clothed with a superior body fashioned from incorruptible, resurrection life like that of the Lord Jesus.

If we live to please our sinful nature, we will reap destruction. We reap the destruction proceeding from our own sinful nature. This means when we are raised from the dead, instead of being clothed with a body like that of the Lord Jesus, we will be clothed upon with the behavior we have practiced while living in the world. We will reap precisely what we have sown.

How about our gossiper? He will be clothed with gossip.

He is clothed with gossip in that his appearance looks like gossip (our body is our appearance; people cannot see our inward nature). What does gossip look like? Can you picture a demon of gossip? That is what he will look like. He will be loathsome.

In a documentary film, I heard a Buddhist artist explain that when he painted the various gods of the Buddhist religion he was portraying what he saw. One can notice along the river banks in India the idols located in cubicles. Some of the gods of India can be seen portrayed in the temples, and sometimes on friezes on the buildings.

These pictures and carvings may be attractive to some, but I think I am correct in saying most westerners are repulsed by them.

In any case, this is how we will appear if, in the Day of Resurrection, we are clothed with our sinful nature. The righteous will be clothed with their righteousness (wrought in Christ) and the wicked will be clothed with their wickedness. Here is the perfect justice of God.

In the present world a wicked person can be beautiful in appearance. But in the Day of Resurrection the wicked person will be repulsive and the righteous will be attractive. These are states of being that are the consequences of our behavior. They are practical and realistic, unlike our present teaching concerning Heaven and Hell.

But is there a Paradise, an outer darkness, a Hell, a Lake of Fire? Yes, these are places that exist, although in the spirit realm. Isn’t it painful enough to appear as a grotesque monster? Is it necessary we be confined in a place of punishment?

One would think being a repulsive personality would be a sufficient consequence of wicked behavior. But then, we are not God. God is loving and has given His Son so we can be forgiven, and also have our sinful nature removed from us. But God also is a Judge. He does not want mixtures in His Kingdom. If we are righteous and holy, we are to remain that way. If we are wicked and morally filthy, we are to remain that way.

So God has prepared environments suitable for both the righteous and the wicked. The righteous will live in a beautiful environment where they can have eternal fellowship with God and His holy people and holy angels. The wicked, in their grotesque form, will be in the darkness where the heat gives no light. They will have fellowship with Satan, his angels, and the wicked of all the ages. The Lake of Fire was prepared for the Devil and his angels, but the Bible says there also will be wicked people there.

The inheriting of a repulsive form is merely the consequence of how we have behaved, of what we truly are in personality. The environments termed Hell, or the Lake of Fire, or outer darkness, are places of punishment. The truly wicked will be punished in a place of torment, in addition to having their wicked personality exposed.

If such is the case, and it seems reasonable and scriptural, how about the mass of people in the ranks of Christianity, as well as the "sheep" drawn from the nations? Most of them are still bound with the sinful nature. How will they fare in the future?

This is where the program of redemption comes into action. For everyone who is willing to submit to Christ, Christ will bring that individual through the process of judgment until the sinful nature has been destroyed. This is true for the members of the churches as well as for the saved people from the nations; for God will have no individual in His new world of righteousness who practices sin.

There are only two ways in which a person can live. He can live in the sinful nature or he can live in the Spirit of God. There is no third way in which a person can live. It is God’s will that every saved person live, move, and have his being in the Spirit of God.

My personal opinion is that the destruction of the sinful nature, which is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement (Day of Reconciliation) has commenced. I believe it will continue until the time comes for the present earth and sky to flee from the face of Christ, at the time of the last judgment.

I have no desire in this essay or in any of my other writings to be fanciful or mystical. I am of the opinion that Christians will be helped in their walk with the Lord if they will become more aware of the reality of the spirit realm; that their behavior will not change by virtue of dying; and that they are going to be faced with the consequences of their behavior, whether that behavior is in this world or in the next. Our future state of being and our environment will be directly determined by how we behave, whether here or there.

There is altogether too much escapism and inevitability in Christian thinking, and this attitude affects our behavior. The present world and the spirit world are pretty much one and the same, although one is visible and the other invisible. We may think of the physical world and the spirit world as being two halves of one area where people live, move, and have their being. We do not escape the consequences of our actions by becoming invisible!

Are you getting a feel for what I am attempting to communicate? I think this will be important in the future in America. If the terrorists have their way it may happen that millions of America will die. Then we need to be aware of the spirit world so we do not panic when loved ones or friends become invisible. They have not gone anywhere when they die. They merely have become invisible. They still are living, moving, and having their being in the Lord. Whatever they have been on earth they still are!

Remember, the Law of Moses teaches us that God does not like mixtures. He insists things of the same kind be placed together.

Do not plant two kinds of seed in your vineyard; if you do, not only the crops you plant but also the fruit of the vineyard will be defiled. Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together. Do not wear clothes of wool and linen woven together. (Deuteronomy 22:9-11)

Also, when people die they are gathered to those who have been close to them.

Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. (Genesis 25:8)

When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people. (Genesis 49:33)

Notice it does not state Abraham or Jacob went to Heaven. They were gathered to their people.

This tells us that God keeps people in their families.

We know the descendants of Aaron and the Levites were separated as to their duties. How much interaction they had socially is not as clear. But we do realize as far as holiness, is concerned the laws that governed the descendants of Aaron were stricter than those that governed the remainder of the Israelites.

My personal belief is that when people die they are grouped with others like themselves. In the present world the saints are often required to suffer because of the selfish practices of their relatives or acquaintances. I don’t believe this will be true in the next life. One of the joys of the new world will be that of living among people of the same level of consecration and diligence. I think the Lord will use us to assist those of lesser attainment, but we will not be required to suffer because of their foolishness and self-love.

If you are the type of person who expects other people to carry your load for you, you may find that when you die—or even before you die—you will be placed with people like yourself. I wonder how many of us desire to be placed with people like ourselves?

I have been becoming increasingly aware of the spirit world over the past several years. I do not see clearly, but the awareness is there. The Lord has cautioned me about attempting to communicate with those who have gone on, so I do not do that. But sometimes I see things.

Right now, as I catch a glimpse, so to speak, I realize there is one angel with me. Do you remember how the saints remarked about Peter’s angel?

Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, "Peter is at the door!" "You’re out of your mind," they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, "It must be his angel." (Acts 12:13-15)

What an unusual (for us) statement. They must have been more aware of angels in those days. I think most Christians believe we all have guardian angels, and we do.

As I said, right now that is all I am aware of.

As I am reviewing the previous sentence a day after I wrote it, I realize my surroundings have changed. Something is developing that is not clear as yet.

And Elisha prayed, "O LORD, open his eyes so he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (II Kings 6:17)

The last time I went to the hospital I had severe pain. I could "see" the angel clearly. I sensed that his purpose was to insure Satan did not take advantage of my weakness. The pain finally abated and was diagnosed as food poisoning.

There are occasions when I am quite aware of Heaven, and on other occasions, of being surrounded by a multitude of people who are going about their business. In one instance I had come to the door of the palace in Heaven, and standing at the door was the most august personage I think I have ever seen. I do not know whether it was a spirit-angel or a people-angel, that is, a former human being who now is serving God in Heaven.

I am not advocating that we go off the deep end concerning spiritual awareness. Rather I am referring to what to me is an ordinary occurrence, and probably is to numerous other Christian people.

I think if all of us Americans would turn aside from the mad rush of our culture, we would be more conscious of the Presence of Christ. He seems to be close to us in these days—perhaps because our nation is heading toward severe judgment due to our willingness for immorality and violence to prevail among us.

Today (August 28, 2002) another little boy was kidnapped by armed men. Have we grown so callous we cannot grasp what a horrendous crime this is?

Crimes against children may be the worst of all.

One time while in Jerusalem, I was standing in our apartment and meditating. Suddenly, for the very briefest of moments, I became aware of what I believe to be the garden where aborted children are being nurtured by the angels. It was so utterly holy that no one of us could possibly cope emotionally with that vision for any length of time. It was holy beyond all holiness.

The abortion doctors are unaware of the extent of their transgression. There is no need for anyone to shoot an abortion doctor. When they die and are permitted to see what they have done, and discover the sight of the mutilated fetuses cannot be shut out of their memory, they will not need the additional suffering of the Lake of Fire. The awareness of their brutish defilement of that which is so holy in God’s sight will pierce their soul with unbearable pain. Perhaps in addition they will not be given a chance to come to Christ but will be sent immediately to the darkest of dungeons, there to live with others who have despised the Nature of God.

Christ will receive the abortion doctor who calls upon Him. But the ability to call on the Lord itself is a gift from God. It is not something a human can do any time he or she gets the notion.

We need to get a sense of the two worlds, and how visible we all are now, and will be in the future.

Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. (I Corinthians 4:5)

You know, we would like God to judge us in secret. I don’t believe this will be the case. I think what we have whispered in the ear will be proclaimed on the housetops, so to speak.

All that has been hidden in darkness, as far as our actions are concerned, will be brought to the light. The very motives of our heart will be exposed for the world to see.

Notice the following:

The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here. (Luke 11:31,32)

Think about the above. How is it possible that the Queen of the South, and the men of Nineveh, can stand up at the judgment with the generation of Christ’s time and condemn those people? Is it because the judgment will be so open? Or is it because the Queen and the men of Nineveh were watching from the spirit realm while the Lord was preaching to the Jewish people?

In the Day we are approaching everything shall be revealed. Those who have turned many to righteousness will shine as the stars. Those who have been wicked will suffer shame and contempt.

Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. (Daniel 12:2,3)

I do not know whether "shame and everlasting contempt" also include confinement in a tormenting environment, but they certainly do reflect a state of being that we would like to avoid. But remember, it is the choices we make now, and the actions we take based on those choices, that are determining our state of being and our environment.

It is thought commonly among Christians that once we accept Christ we need have no fear of an undesirable state of being or a tormenting environment. This simply is not the case. The Lord did not come in order to bring the works of the devil into the purity and love of the Presence of God. He came to destroy the works of the devil.

Those who cooperate with the Lord will have the works of the devil removed from them. Those who, for whatever reason, refuse to cooperate with the Lord will not have the works of the devil removed from them, and they will experience the state of being and environment suitable for those who choose to live in the sinful nature.

Heaven knows what we are doing. Daniel was known by the angels of God.

As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the vision: (Daniel 9:23)

I would like to be highly esteemed by the inhabitants of Heaven. Wouldn’t you? It wouldn’t really matter if we have a mansion or not, just as long as we are highly esteemed. How do you feel about this?

I like to think of Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus about the atonement. I don’t suppose all the deceased people have the opportunity to appear on the earth and talk to people about matters of concern, but evidently some do.

Daniel and Job knew they would stand in their allotted place at the end of the days, that is, at the time of the resurrection.

We are surrounded by the witnesses of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, and perhaps by many others. In fact, we already have come to Mount Zion, and to a great number of angels in joyful convocation. I think when we choose to act in a righteous manner, the righteous beings of the spirit world are strengthened. But when we choose to act in an unrighteous manner, we give occasion for Satan to reproach God.

I know Abraham and Lazarus could see the rich man in Hell and converse with him. What a torment it would be to be living in the flames and yet be able to see Paradise. Indeed, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth because of opportunities forever lost.

Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. You show love to thousands but bring the punishment for the fathers’ sins into the laps of their children after them. O great and powerful God, whose name is the LORD Almighty, Great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds. Your eyes are open to all the ways of men; you reward everyone according to his conduct and as his deeds deserve. (Jeremiah 32:17-19)

One of the greatest errors in Christian thinking is that God does not see what we are doing after we accept Christ. This is not the case. God’s eyes are "open to all the ways of men," and he rewards "everyone according to his conduct and as his deeds deserve." It is not the purpose of grace to blind God to our actions.

Again:

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13)

Again:

There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs. (Luke 12:2,3)

Our conclusion is that the issue is not golden streets or the fires of Hell. The issue is change into the moral image of Christ and fellowship with God. What good would it be to live in Paradise if we were still bound with a sinful nature?

Are there actually places of punishment, such as the Lake of Fire? Indeed there are! And the Lord Jesus warned us that it is better to cut off a member of our body, if it is causing us to sin, than to be thrown into the fire.

However, God is not anxious to put people into eternal torment. God created man to be in His image, and more than that, to be the very throne and temple of God—to represent Him to all His creatures.

God has given His Son to die on the cross so He might be able to forgive us and accept us into His Presence. I’m afraid we have repaid this kindness by attempting to use God’s compassion as a means of continuing in our sinful nature and yet be permitted into Paradise when we die.

Such is our wickedness!

Many of the new Christian books offer ways of getting something out of God; of using the Holy Spirit to accomplish what we want. The popularity of these "how to get God to do what you want" books reveals that we are not very interested in having fellowship with the Father and being conformed to the moral image of Christ. We want to know how to escape Hell so we can continue with our customary playful life in Heaven.

The Spirit of God is moving throughout the Christian churches, seeking those who are willing to turn aside from their own ways and find out how they can do the will of Christ more perfectly, even though it may mean experiencing at the present time the sufferings of Christ.

The King has needs today. Will you be one of those who come to His side that He may use you to accomplish His purposes? If you come to His side and permit Him to use you according to His will, the hour will arrive, sooner or later, when your faithfulness is revealed for all to see.

But if you choose to live as one of America’s nominal Christians, a church member who continues with your pursuit of happiness in our culture, the hour will arrive, sooner or later, when your lack of faithfulness to Christ is revealed for all to see.

The wise will plan for the future, insuring that their behavior today will bring them to the state of being and the environment they prefer.

"Curse Meroz," said the angel of the LORD. "Curse its people bitterly, because they did not come to help the LORD, to help the LORD against the mighty." (Judges 5:23)

When the princes in Israel take the lead, when the people willingly offer themselves—praise the LORD! (Judges 5:2)