Tags: 1 John 5, altar calls, Great White Throne, Jesus Christ, John 3, Paul Washer, Revelation 20, salvation invitations, terminal illness
I once heard a preacher say to his congregation: “You are in the Bible.” This is a strange statement because the events that are recorded in the Bible, for the most part, took place thousands of years ago. What he meant was that you might very well be one of the ones standing in the crowd described in this passage of Scripture:
And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
Revelation 20:11-14 (emphasis added)
Obviously, if you are reading this, you are not yet among the “dead,” and I pray that you will never go to face God before His Great White Throne in judgment, but we must deal clearly and directly with that possibility.
You may have heard preachers say that you can find yourself in the Bible in another, less-frightening place. They will tell you that you can insert your own name in this well-known Bible verse:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that [insert your name here] should not perish, but have everlasting life.
The words that are supposed to be replaced by your name are “whosoever believeth in him,” referring to believing in Jesus Christ. If you will believe the truth about Jesus Christ and call upon Him to save you from the just punishment for your sins against God, then He will give you eternal life. If you will be the “whosoever” of John 3:16, you can avoid being the other kind of “whosoever:”
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Being unsure about any of this should bring you to a crisis. A crisis is a critical, crucial moment. It is when you come to a fork in the road of your life and you have to make a decision to go one way or the other. Going back is not an option and standing still is not an option.
Here’s an example: Pretend you are in the doctor’s office. You have been there many times before – for checkups and for minor treatments. Usually it is routine. Every once in a while you get some medicine, or at worst a mildly painful injection, but you always leave the doctor’s office with the hope that everything is okay – that you are going to get better. But this time it’s different. Instead of the doctor telling you it’ll be okay, he is very serious. His voice almost shakes and this scares you. He is telling you something you have never heard before and never expected to hear in a million years. He says you have a terrible disease – it is all over you – it has invaded your body and will eat you alive – and you will die. He goes on to explain some of the details about your condition. He has test results. He has x-rays, and they show that your body is black with this disease. He is trying to tell you there is a chance to survive – but only one chance. You must have surgery right now – right this minute – no thinking it over, no talking to your family and friends, no second opinion. Get to the emergency room right now and submit to being cut open – or die.
Now you see the meaning of a crisis: only two choices. No standing still, no waiting, no going back. Trust your life to a surgeon or die. Could you accept such a diagnosis? Or would you begin to hesitate? “I can’t be as sick as he says. I feel fine physically. I am strong. I am relatively young. Surgery is a major ordeal. It’s serious, my whole life will have to change. No more eating whatever I want, drinking whatever I want, no more staying out late doing whatever I want. I can’t just lie down on an operating table and trust a surgeon to cut me open. I like to be in control. I’ll control this with medicine. I’ll exercise, eat right, get more rest, change my lifestyle. I’ll do it in my own strength.”
When the doctor begins to plead with you and threaten you, you cup your hands over your ears, and you run out… thereby cutting yourself off from the only remedy.
Is this what goes through your mind when someone corners you with a Bible or tries to tell you that you are going to hell without Jesus? “This is too much to face. I can’t just trust God. Everyone will laugh at me. This is a big step. What if God really does give me a new heart and I don’t like to do the fun things of this world any more? What if I become God’s child and, like a good father, He begins correcting me when I sin? I like to sin – I don’t want God’s Spirit living inside me making me feel bad all the time. I can’t just stop doing the things I do for fun – the things I’m addicted to. Maybe I can cut back some. I’ll work on it myself. Maybe I can change the kind of person I am. I’ll go to church more often. I’ll even volunteer to do some work there. I’ll show God I’m not so bad.”
Please do not cover your eyes and cup your hands over your ears. Please do not run away. Sit still for a moment and stop thinking about what you’re going to do with the rest of your day. Put out of your mind the problems you will face at work tomorrow. Forget about what other people will think of you. This is about you and God. If you lie down and submit to Him, He is not like the earthly surgeon. Even if an earthly surgeon cures you it will only last for a little while. When God performs surgery, the surgery will be successful. The new heart that He will give you will be capable of loving and obeying God. You will care about eternal, important, valuable things – not the foolish everyday cares and concerns of this world. You can’t understand the joy of salvation until you experience it. Will you receive it today? Will you receive Him today?
He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
I John 5:12
Tags: Ephesians 4, Jesus Christ, John Flavel, John Flavel quotes, Puritan quotes, quotes about swimming, swimming quotes
Jesus, our head, is already in heaven; and if the head be above water, the body cannot drown.
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
Ephesians 4:14-16 (emphasis added)
Tags: A.E. Housman, commentary on Ecclesiastes, Ecclesiastes 7, feasting, laughter, Mithridates, mourning, poetry, sorrow, Sunday School lessons on Ecclesiastes
A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth. It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.
Can it be that the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth? From King Solomon’s Old Testament, life-under-the-sun perspective, he could imagine a life so filled with struggles, troubles, pain, and sorrow, that leaving this world behind would be sweeter than entering. Of course, New Testament Christians shouldn’t be so pessimistic. We celebrate birth and new life passionately, but there is still in a sense in which it can be said that our “death day” will be better than our “birth day.” For Christians, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, and our final breath in this earthly life will mean entering in to the far-superior Heavenly realm to experience the unsurpassable joy of the presence of Jesus forever and ever.
Solomon went on to state that the house of mourning is better than the house of feasting. Can this be so? In a sense, feasting is a celebration of temporal, earthly things, and mourning is the facing of the reality that this world and it’s finite pleasures will come to an end. Mourning tends to help us face reality and truth, whereas – sometimes – eating, drinking, and merry-making suspends our sense of the importance of eternal things.
Can sorrow be better than laughter? Who would rather cry than laugh? Again, we must temper our understanding of Solomon’s pronouncements by taking a long view of the good of our souls. The Bible does say that a merry heart can be like medicine, but sometimes we need to experience sorrow to diagnose our true ailment.
Can being chewed out be better than someone singing a song to you? It depends on the person doing the rebuking or the person doing the singing. To be entertained by a fool can be far worse than being rebuked by a wise friend who is holding you accountable in truth and love.
This passage of Scripture always reminds me of a poem by A.E. Housman which starts off with the line, “Terence, this is stupid stuff…” One of the points of the poem is that grief and mourning and meditating on tragedy strengthens people for future troubles and trials and difficulties which are sure to come. Housman uses the example of King Mithridates, who is supposed to have intentionally consumed small doses of poison over long periods of time to inoculate himself against assassination attempts (which in ancient times often took the form of poisoning the king’s meat or wine). I don’t endorse all the sentiments of the poem from a Christian perspective – especially since the narrator endorses drunkenness as a valid means of dealing with heartache! But this section of the poem is a pretty good summation of what Solomon was getting at in Ecclesiastes Chapter 7:
And while the sun and moon endure
Luck’s a chance, but trouble’s sure,
I’d face it as a wise man would,
And train for ill and not for good.
Christians find our true joy, peace, and fulfillment in Christ Jesus when times get tough, but we do not live in a make-believe world where suffering, grief, mourning, and tribulations are to be brushed aside with frivolous distractions or vain entertainment.
Tags: 2 Timothy 1, Acts 22, Apostle Paul, common expressions from the Bible, divine calling, encouragement for Christians, forgiveness, matyrdom of Stepehen, standing by
And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.
The Apostle Paul was almost killed in a riot, but he was rescued by Roman centurions and allowed to address the crowd. Not only did Paul see Jesus alive, but Jesus spoke to him and told him what to do. Paul wanted to go back there very badly, and he even tried to talk Jesus out of sending him somewhere else, stating that when Stephen, the martyr, was killed, Paul had been a bystander. Paul called himself a bystander, but he did not consider himself to be an innocent bystander.
By doing nothing – just safeguarding the coats of those who stoned Stephen – Paul had consented to his death. The Apostle Paul knew that he was guilty, and he did not pretend that just standing by and watching absolves one from sin or guilt. Now that he had been born again, and had been appointed as God’s missionary to the gentiles, he was saying, in effect, “I can’t go where You want me to go, Lord, and I can’t do the things You want me to do, because I have to go back and make amends for my sins. I have to make up for what I did in the past.” Paul never wanted to go back to the role of a “bystander.”
Are you a bystanding Christian? Do you believe you can’t do anything for the Lord because of what you’ve done in the past? Jesus told Paul to “depart,” to stop being on “stand-by.” Jesus reminded Paul of exactly Who it was Who was sending him. Do you think God doesn’t know about your past? Your sins? Your failures? Do you think He’s making a mistake by calling you to get involved in ministry? To do His work?
Among Christians, there are no “innocent” bystanders. We’re all guilty before the sinless Savior, but our sins are forgiven. Our past is (not “will be“) forgiven. It’s time to stop being a “bystander” and to start departing.
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
II Timothy 1:9
We weren’t called because of what we did or didn’t do before we were saved – or because of any works God thought we might be able to impress Him with afterward. We were called according to His purpose and grace – before the world began.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 13, accommodating, accommodations, accommodations in marriage, Christian marriage, Ephesians 5, marriage, marriage counseling, Philippians 2
Christian love in marriage…
…[d]oth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
I Corinthians 13:5 (emphasis added)
Spouses should be be:
We all have a tendency to “seek our own.”
For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
What is the longest period of time in your life you have you gone without sleeping? What about without eating? It is built into our nature as human beings to take care of ourselves. Self-preservation is a gift from God, but our sinfulness so often warps this useful gift into something perverted. How often do we meditate on our marriages as vehicles for our own self-interest?
-What would make this marriage better for me?
-What would make my spouse a better spouse – for me?
-I don’t mind doing something for my spouse, as long as it’s not too bad for me, too – or as long as I get something in return.
The Bible is very up-front about our selfishness: We are not naturally accommodating to others.
For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.
The remedy for this is accommodating your spouse – but not, as we may suppose, by making the accommodation for your spouse’s sake. The remedy is making an accommodation based on what’s best from Christ’s point of view. It is the Gospel that truly teaches us to be accommodating, and the by-product is having a calm, peaceful marriage. When neither spouse is seeking his/her own and when both spouses are seeking what’s best for the other, then the Spirit of Christ rules and brings freedom. We don’t fully realize just how freeing selflessness is until we give up our own “rights.” After all, do most of the things we call “rights” really qualify for that designation? Does the Bible give you the “right” to a hot meal? To a “clean house?” To a husband who makes as much money as your friend’s husband? To a wife who is as thin or as voluptuous or whatever as your friend’s wife? Oh the joy – the freedom – we experience when begin to give up our “rights” and tell our spouses, “You go first;” “I’ll let you decide;” “We’ll do what you want to do.”
Tags: advice, bringing glory to God, giving advice, God the King, good advice, Psalm 33, Psalm 4, R.C. Sproul
Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.
Psalm 4:4-5 (emphasis added)
There was a time when subjects would go before their king. When that happened, the subjects would stand and the king would remain seated on his throne. The king was considered “sovereign.” The job of the subjects was to esteem him. When it’s time to give advice, we had better not leave this factor out of the equation: Is what you are about to do going to bring glory to your Lord? Will it reflect esteem onto your King?
Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
To stand before God should cause us to tremble in fear and awe.
For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.
Even if what you are doing is wise or good or even beneficial to others, God has the final veto power over it. If He blesses it, it will be glorious. If He curses it, it will be terrible.
The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.
I am not talking about asking God to put His stamp of approval on your own plan. He is not a cosmic bellhop, which is what the heathens think about their gods. I am talking about approaching any endeavor as though it must meet with God’s approval. To “esteem” means to make something valuable. We cannot add any value to God, but we are to make our decisions – and to give advice – with His glory at the forefront of our reasoning.
Somebody at some time is going to seek your advice. And there are going to be times when you are really not sure which path to take, and you are going to seek the advice of others. Life is full of big decisions. Our job is to learn to think Biblically and to apply God’s principles to giving and taking advice before we presume to say whatever seems best in the circumstances.
Tags: Bible lesson web sites, Bible lessons, Bible studies, Bible study blogs, Bible study web sites, blogging, devotions, devotions for all occasions, Holy Bible
Yesterday – spurred by a tremendous month of July – The Deep End hit another one of those round-number milestones in number of views all-time. Thanks again to everyone who has visited. Thanks most of all to the Lord God Almighty for giving us such a wealth of knowledge, wisdom, insight, blessings, and spiritual Truth in the Holy Bible, and for giving me the opportunity to write about it.
The category called “Bible Studies” contains posts that come from times when I have been asked to fill in for a preacher or pastor who is sick or away on a mission trip, or to teach what are called “devotions” at couples’, men’s, or children’s events. Some of them come from funerals, prayer breakfasts, youth conferences, teacher-training seminars, Christian school chapel services, and all kinds of fellowship activities. Some of them come from my private devotional studies. They are about a diverse range of topics, hence the broad category heading. I hope and pray that you’ll find at least something useful in them.
1. Discipleship Lessons Promo
2. A Match Made in Heaven Part 1
3. A Match Made in Heaven Part 2
4. The “Great” that Doesn’t “Grate” – Part One
5. The “Great” that Doesn’t “Grate” – Part Two
6. The Great Trading-Post
7. What Is God Like?
8. Brain “Washing” Produces “Clean” Living (Part 1)
9. Brain “Washing” Produces “Clean” Living (Part 2)
10. Turning Up the Heat – Part 1
11. Turning Up the Heat – Part 2
12. Turning Up the Heat – Part 3
13. Careless Love – Part 1
14. Careless Love – Part 2 (Divine Rapid Heart Rate)
15. Careless Love – Part 3
16. T.K.O. Your Pastor (#1)
17. T.K.O. Your Pastor (#2)
18. The Solemn Ascension
19. Is It Wrong to Ask for an Overt Response? (Part 1)
20. Is It Wrong to Ask for an Overt Response? (Part 2)
21. The Lord’s Leftovers
22. The Last but Not the Least – Part 1
23. The Last but Not the Least – Part 2
24. The Last but Not the Least – Part 3
25. Dr. Law and Dr. Grace
26. Healing for Truly Broken Hearts
27. The Husband of One Wife – Part 1
28. The Husband of One Wife – Part 2
29. The Devil’s Math
30. Setting Up Your Own Place
31. Testing Your Testimony
32. The Bold Pair in the Enemy’s Lair (Part 1)
33. The Bold Pair in the Enemy’s Lair (Part 2)
34. Practical Intentional Evangelism
35. High and Mighty
36. Calling Witnesses (Part 1)
37. Calling Witnesses (Part 2)
38. Calling Witnesses (Part 3)
39. Faithful to Him and to Each Other
40. Leading Instead of Watching
41. The Hard Work of Encouragement
42. The Redeemer Is Prophesied
43. Christian Lifeguards
44. Leavenless Lump
45. How Tall Was Jesus? (*)
46. Do You Have Plans for Lunch?
47. What Are You Hungry For?
48. The Breathtaking Wonder of God
49. The Helmet of Salvation
50. Being At-TENT-ive to God
51. Home Is Where Your Lord Is
52. It’s Time to Grow Up
53. Biblical Men
54. Graded by God: Turning Your “F”s into “A”s (Part One)
55. Graded by God: Turning Your “F”s into “A”s (Part Two)
56. Graded by God: Turning Your “F”s into “A”s (Part Three)
57. Fathers and Daughters
58. Only Jesus
59. Snakes on a Plain (Part 1)
60. Snakes on a Plain (Part 2)
61. Snakes on a Plain (Part 3)
62. Servant Movers (Commitment)
63. Servant Movers (Character and Conduct)
64. The Lord’s Love Song
65. Don’t Grieve the Holy Spirit
66. Four-Dimensional Love (Part 1)
67. Four-Dimensional Love (Part 2)
68. From What Were You Saved? (A and B)
69. From What Were You Saved? (C)
70. Sharpening Your Focus
71. Preparation for the Battle
72. The Day of Distress
73. Getting Full (Part 1)
74. Getting Full (Part 2)
75. God Knows Something about Everything
76. How to Get High in Christian Ministry
77. How to Read the Bible (and Get Something out of It): Part 1
78. How to Read the Bible (and Get Something out of It): Part 2
79. How to Read the Bible (and Get Something out of It): Part 3
80. Christian F.R.I.E.N.D.S.hip (Part 1)
81. Christian F.R.I.E.N.D.S.hip (Part 2)
82. Put It On and Pack It On
83. Pass It On and Pour It On
84. Preparing to Hear from God: Ready
85. Preparing to Hear from God: Receptive
86. Preparing to Hear from God: Responsive
87. Remembering the Garlic
88. Three Reasons for Ten Commandments (Revelatory)
89. Three Reasons for Ten Commandments (Restrictive)
90. Three Reasons for Ten Commandments (Reflective)
91. Your Vocation
92. Why We’re so Difficult
93. Where Is Jesus in the Bible? (lesson 1)
94. Where Is Jesus in the Bible? (lesson 2)
95. Clear Calls for Christians: Pure Upgrade
96. Clear Calls for Christians: Proper Unity
97. Clear Calls for Christians: Point Upward
98. From Garbage to Glory
102. Our Great Needs (Psalm 35:10)
103. A Diet of Distinction (Part One) (Leviticus 11:1-8)
104. A Diet of Distinction (Part Two) (Leviticus 11:44)
105. A Diet of Distinction (Part 3) (Leviticus 11:3-7)
* most-read post in category
Tags: Book of Life, God's judgment, Great White Throne, Great White Throne judgment, Jesus Christ, Revelation 20, sin
The Great White Throne shows:
At the Great White Throne where God will judge those who have rejected Jesus Christ, there will be certain books. One of the books will contain the record of the sins of the unredeemed. I believe the Bible will also be one of those books. But there is a third book mentioned.
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
Revelation 20:12 (emphasis added)
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Revelation 20:15 (emphasis added)
If you find yourself before this Great White Throne, you will be judged – but you will not be tried. The outcome of your trial would be a foregone conclusion. If you have not trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, your name is not in that Book of Life. If you go to the lake of fire you will have no one to blame but yourself. There was a day when the King of the Great White Throne – when the Judge – hung on a Cross before all men. You weren’t there in person, but you know – deep down – in your heart of hearts – that it’s true. He hung before all men, and one day all men will stand before Him.
And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
Revelation 20:11 (emphasis added)
Do you see that if you stand before God without Jesus Christ, you will stand before God completely alone? I’m not talking about the “God” you’ve seen in popular Christian art. I’m not talking about an effeminate male model with a trickle of blood running from his temple, pouting seductively at the artist. I’m not talking about a bumbling old grandfather who stumbles around to a laugh track while younger, cooler people get away with things that he’s too old to understand. I am talking about the God from Whose countenance heaven and earth will flee. You will be alone with HIM!
And I saw the dead, small and great…
Revelation 20:12 (emphasis added)
There are men in this world who are thought to be great “movers and shakers.” They have influence and power and authority in this world, over nations, over small groups of people and over vast numbers of people. But they will not be “great” before this Throne and they will not be excused. Nor will those who thought their sins would be overlooked because of their smallness. You may not be a big sinner in a small pond. In fact, you may be a very small sinner in a very large ocean – but, apart from Christ Jesus, you are an enemy of God and your sin makes you abominable to Him.
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God…
Revelation 20:12 (emphasis added)
If you appear before the Great White Throne you will stand. There will be no excuses. We live in a day and age of excuses and rationalizations and shifting the blame. Someone commits a horrible atrocity which is unquestionably evil and one of the first things the media wants to do is start looking for someone else to blame: Was it something in his childhood? Was it a chemical imbalance? Was it society’s fault? None of that will wash before the Great White Throne. There, every man will be judged according to his works.
Tags: 1 Kings 21, 1 Kings 22, Ahab, Elijah, Jezebel, Naboth, Payday Someday, R.G. Lee, views, website views
July, 2012, was a banner month for The Deep End, as far as the number of views this site received. The previous record for most views in a month was broken – and by a lot! While the number of views has been rapidly rising for a while now, something happened in July to really kick things into gear. I wish I could say I knew what it was. I’m thankful to the Lord for allowing me to keep posting, and I’m grateful to everyone who subscribes and reads. If you find something interesting here in The Deep End, take a deep breath, swim around for awhile, and leave a comment or two.
In celebration, I’m going to post the links to the category called “Arise” which contains a series of posts about the account of Naboth’s vineyard. The idea for these posts came directly from R.G. Lee’s famous sermon, “Payday Someday,” which is one of my all time favorites.
Arise: Naboth’s Vineyard, Ahab’s Vice, and God’s Vengeance
I. The Pious Patriarch
II. The Pouting Potentate
III. The Poisonous Puppeteer
IV. The Pestering Prophet
V. The Preeminent Precept
VI. The Poignant Payment
(The Passive Pointer)
VII. The Punctual Punishment