September, 2014 - "Heaven, Hell & the Devil"
I’m writing this message in order to shine some light on three subjects that are never mentioned in today’s churches: They are Heaven, hell, and the devil.
To begin, I want to give an example of satan’s devious way with something that God gave to us for pleasure and enjoyment. We had some beautiful wild flowers this year. But we also had a constant battle with the weeds. Weeds grow FASTER than flowers and imitate their appearance so closely that it is sometimes difficult to see the difference between the two.
Weeds have always reminded me of the devil. They smother, choke and take over, just as he is doing in the world today. So I want to try and show what God’s Word says about the devil and the millions of fallen angels that we now have as demons.
It’s obvious that the Apostle Paul believed in satan, and it should be obvious to all of us that there is an evil force out there, and he is full of anger and hate.
Satan is the great imitator of Christianity, and he has made it a lot easier to follow him, than to follow Jesus. C.S. Lewis, in his book “The Screwtape Letters” is a Christian novel written in a satirical style. The story takes the form of a series of letters from a senior demon named Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood, a Junior demon. The uncle's mentorship pertains to the nephew's responsibility for securing the damnation of a British man known only as "the Patient". At one point Screwtape writes back to Wormwood telling him how lucky he was to be serving him in this age, as most of humanity did not even believe that the devil existed, which gave them free reign. And this is true. Just check yourself and ask, how often does it even enter your mind, that just as God is leading and speaking to you, so also is the devil?
The devil has become an image we see in horror movies. To most of the world he is not real and does not exist. Just turn on your television and watch the news. Where is all this evil coming from? Then turn to a few Christian TV stations and try to find a program that teaches the Bible. What you will find on Christian TV are people selling vitamins, talking morals and politics, or teaching how to invest your money. Teaching exercise classes, and how to have a healthy, happy family life and marriage, is also common. While these are all good things, none of them belong in the Church. When you do hear a Bible verse spoken, it will usually be taken out of context and will promise blessing and wealth.
Who took the Bible out of the church? I’m sure that it was not God. Pastor Scott made a comment one day. She said, “This is the darkest age of Christianity.” And I agree. What we have is an imitation Christianity given to us by the great imitator and father of lies. Jesus spoke often about the devil. He had power over these dark forces, rebuking and casting them out of people who were lame, blind, and in some cases possessed.
For many years I have not heard anyone preach on the devil, Heaven or hell. There is a belief going around that we don’t need to think about those three words, because in time humanity will be able to fix the world and bring peace, prosperity, and health to all. It’s a perfect set up for the anti-christ.
We all know that there is a devil. We just hate to think about it. He was created eons ago, when all the angels, cherubs and host of Heaven was created. Isaiah talks about why satan was cast out of heaven: “How you are fallen from heaven O Lucifer, son of the morning! For you have said in your heart; I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; . . .” (Isaiah 14:12, on thru verse 17).
Ezekiel describes satan before the fall: “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty; you were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering” (Ezekiel 12:12). Then Ezekiel goes on to name every beautiful precious stone which covered him. It goes on thru verse 19.
The first mention of satan in the Bible is of course in Genesis. He was in the garden of Eden, no doubt looking for an opportunity to ruin God’s creation. He doesn’t just straight out call God a liar, but he creates doubt in God’s Word when He spoke to Eve saying, “Has God indeed said you shall not eat of EVERY tree of the garden?” He knew exactly what God had said, and he managed to deceive Eve.
The consequences of the fall were nothing less than the universal sinfulness of all humanity. Adam and Eve passed this sinful nature on to their children, ending in one son killing his brother. We are all born with a sinful nature. We cannot fix ourselves, no matter how good a life we live. We need a Savior. And God, in His great mercy, right there in the Garden promised us a Savior. Genesis 3:15 is the first promise of a Redeemer when God said: “And I will put enmity between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel.”
George Williams’ Commentary says “they predicted that the Redeemer should be of the human race; of a section of that race, Shem (Genesis 9:26), of a nation belonging to that section; the Hebrews of a tribe in that nation Judah; of a family in that tribe, David; of a member of that family, a woman, the virgin (Isaiah 7:14); and lastly in a village belonging to that woman, Bethlehem (Mica 5:2). Thus these great prophetic circles lead to the Son of God.”
The next word we hear little about is Heaven. Few are the folks who live as though there is a heaven, and a destination which we should be looking forward to.
Jesus, speaking to his disciples said, “Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-2). Quoting from Isaiah 64:4, Paul says in 1st Corinthians 2:9, that “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
But we never hear about Heaven. I don’t understand why the pastors of today do not teach on something that should be so close to a Christian’s heart. When someone dies we always hear the comment, “they’re in a better place.” How does anyone know? God is the great Judge, which we will all face one day, and I suppose it is such a fearful subject to most people, that it is easier for them not to speak about it.
But Jesus spoke about it so often. He told of how He was there in Heaven when satan fell. In a prayer before His death, He asked His Father to restore Him to His former glory. Speaking of little children, He said, “for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10). How did Jesus know that? He knew because He had been there and knew of the ministering spirits that were sent forth to minister to those who will inherit salvation. “For He shall give His angels charge over you” (Psalm 91:11). He charged these guardian angels to minister and care for those who are called and chosen. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1st Peter 1:3-4).
“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11). There are a number of verses on an inheritance in Heaven for us. Look up “inheritance” in your concordance, at the back of your Bible. You will find numerous instances where “inheritance” is mentioned. And as Dr. Scott always said, “When God repeats Himself, He wants you to pay attention.”
When Jesus called His disciples, He did not promise them a salary or a lovely apartment. He just said, “Follow Me.” And we, too, are followers of Christ. And as we follow we become part of His family.
Paul said, “For many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are SONS of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage (slavery) again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption (son ship) by Whom we cry out ‘Abba Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Romans 8:14). So if we are adopted children by God, we will live where He lives and be set free from the bondage of this world. Romans 8 (verses 19-22) speaks of the creation being delivered. Isaiah 11:6-9 speaks of a most beautiful time that we all should be looking forward to: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp (cobra), and the weaned child shall put his hand in the cockatrice’ (viper’s) den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” Our mind just cannot comprehend what God has prepared for us – if we love Him and belong to His family
God is the final judge at the end of our life, but the Bible teaches all that we need to know to avoid hell. I think everyone knows it’s a horrible place so I will end with a verse out of Revelation 20:15: “And anyone not found written in the Book of life was cast into the lake of Fire.”
September, 2014 Prayer Requests
For Robert Casto (Cushing, OK) and His family, for health.
For Vangie Gonzales (Silver City, NM), for health.
For Dennis Martin (Lexington, OK) who has had several heart surgeries and is now having another pace maker put in.
For Frederick Gray & his family (Oklahoma), for health.
For Willie Scott (Grady, Arkansas), that he will be granted clemency from the parole board.
For Michael Small’s Mom, Suzanne (Illinois).
For Anthony Grayson (Elmira, New York), that he finds legal assistance.
For Mike Long (Larned, Kansas), for health.
For Sister Ann & the Carmelite nuns in Little Rock.
For Freddie Lee Lott (Chicago, Illinois), to stay “cancer free.”
For Robert Heffernan (Grady, Arkansas), that DNA evidence in his case will be tested.
For all the Wingspread brothers who have recently gotten out of prison.
For Pastor Scott’s health; & her ministry in Los Angeles.
For our friend & neighbor, Ginger, for her strength and health.
For Margaret, for healing of glaucoma.
For all of us at Wingspread.
By Ira Forest Stanphill
(1953- Inspired by a missionary couple’s story)
I traveled on a lonely road and no one seemed to care.
The burden on my weary back had bowed me to despair;
I oft complained to Jesus how folks were treating me,
And then I heard Him say so tenderly,
"My feet were also weary, upon the Calvary road;
The cross became so heavy, I fell beneath the load,
Be faithful weary pilgrim the morning I can see,
Just lift your cross and follow close to me."
"I work so hard for Jesus" I often boast and say
"I've sacrificed a lot of things to walk the narrow way,
I gave up fame and fortune, I'm worth a lot to Thee"
And then I hear Him gently say to me,
"I left the throne of glory and counted it but loss,
My hands were nailed in anger upon a cruel cross,
But now we'll make the journey with your hand safe in mine,
So lift your cross and follow close to me.
Oh Jesus if I die upon a foreign field someday,
'Twould be no more than love demands, no less could I repay,
"No greater love hath mortal man than for a friend to die"
These are the words He gently spoke to me,
"If just a cup of water I place within your hand
Then just a cup of water is all that I demand.
But if by death to living they can Thy glory see,
I'll take my cross and follow close to Thee.
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