How to Explain the Afterlife?

January 21, 2019 at 11:52 am | Posted in Q&A | 1 Comment
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Question: What is the best way to explain “the afterlife” to a very confused eight year old boy?

Answer: It depends on what he means by “the afterlife.” If he is talking about what happens when you die, then you can explain to him that those who have trusted in Christ will go to be with the Lord in Heaven (Hebrews 9:27; II Corinthians 5:8). I don’t have a ton of experience with boys, but I know that when I was helping in children’s ministry, they sometimes had trouble grasping the concept of having a soul or a spirit apart from your body. Boys tend to be more “physical” and girls tend to be more about “feelings.” So for the boys, they would think of someone dying and being buried, and they would think that the body was still the person. So, I would try to explain how, when a person dies, the thing that really makes him who he is – his thoughts, his consciousness, his “mind” – leaves the body behind. You can illustrate this by going up to a mannequin in a department store and slapping it in the face: no reaction. That’s how a person’s body will be when he dies. But the part that would have gotten mad or sad or hurt about the slap is now with Jesus, where there is no “mad, sad, or hurt.” Then, after Jesus comes back, the body that we left here on earth will be resurrected and made “super-powerful” (aka “glorified”) and rejoined with our spirit in Heaven.

The Old Covenant Sanctuary and the New Covenant Sanctuary

February 29, 2016 at 1:38 pm | Posted in Hebrews | 6 Comments
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For the Hebrew believers the New Covenant was an extreme departure from everything they had done to attempt to keep a right standing with God. For those of us who have grown up around New Testament Christianity it would be like if we started having church standing on our heads! This is one reason why the Holy Spirit, in the letter to the Hebrews, breaks things down element by element, piece by piece, as if to say,”Look, it’s okay to draw near to God under the New Covenant.” The logical conclusion for 1st Century Jewish Christians would have been, “If we keep drawing closer and closer, we’re going to wind up in the Holy of Holies – that’s as close as you can get – AND WE CAN’T GO IN THERE!

So in Hebrews Chapter 9 the Holy Ghost explains, using contrasts, just how superior the sanctuary in Heaven (the New Covenant sanctuary) is to the sanctuary in the Tabernacle or the Temple. It is also important to remember that, for New Testament believers, our “sanctuary” is not really a “building.” Today, if you are truly a believer, the Spirit lives within you.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

I Corinthians 6:19

However, keeping that in mind, here are some contrasts between the Old Covenant sanctuary and the Heavenly sanctuary.

1. The Old Covenant sanctuary was man-made.

Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.

Hebrews 9:1

The earthly sanctuary was limited by decay and locale. The eternal sanctuary is permanent – spoken into existence by God.

But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;

Hebrews 9:11

2. The Old Covenant sanctuary was a “type” of a greater reality.

For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.

Hebrews 9:2-5

The pattern for a dress lets the seamstress see what it’s meant to be, but the actual dress is much more useful and fulfilling for the wearer. The Old Covenant sanctuary, by its very nature, pointed to something greater.

Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Hebrews 9:12-14

The sacrifice made in the New Covenant sanctuary actually cleans the conscience, instead of just making someone ceremonially clean.

3. The Old Covenant sanctuary acted as a boundary.

But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:

Hebrews 9:7

Only the high priest could go into the Holy of Holies, and then only once a year, but in the New Covenant sanctuary, spiritually, we can have unlimited access to God, through Christ because of His shed blood.

4. The Old Covenant sanctuary was temporary.

The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:

Hebrews 9:8

Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

Matthew 27:50-51

The New Covenant sanctuary is not only permanent, but is home to a permanent ministry.

For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:

Hebrews 9:24

Even the Jewish genealogical records have been lost or destroyed, and their religions leaders and historians are not sure who is supposed to be ministering as a priest today.

5. The Old Covenant sanctuary was set up to deal with ceremonial and carnal purity.

Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

Hebrews 9:9-10

The New Covenant sanctuary deals with the heart (the conscience). It changes what is on the inside.

For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Hebrews 9:13-14

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Hebrews 9:27

Have you taken advantage of the true – the better – the superior – the everlasting ministry of the sanctuary in Heaven?

The True Consecration

August 27, 2015 at 11:33 am | Posted in Exodus | 4 Comments
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The consecration ceremony for the Levitical priests lasted seven days.

And thus shalt thou do unto Aaron, and to his sons, according to all things which I have commanded thee: seven days shalt thou consecrate them.

Exodus 29:35

And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations. Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon.

Exodus 30:7-9

The burning of the incense represents prayer, and many Christians have adopted the discipline of dedicated prayer times in the morning and the evening, although we can, and should, certainly pray throughout the day, as we are no longer separated from God by priests or a veil or the external requirement of burning incense. As New Testament Christians we meet with God in prayer – open communication – in Christ our High Priest Who has torn the veil and brought us into the Most Holy Place.

Hebrews Chapter 9 reveals to us that the Tabernacle furnishings and practices were meant to be temporary, and were earthly symbols of the Heavenly reality. Christ accomplished the fulfillment of the temporary types by being a “better:”
-Moses
-Covenant
-Tabernacle
-Priest
-High Priest
-Laver
-Lampstand
-Sacrifice
-Holy Place
-Most Holy Place
-Promise (Under the Old Covenant God visited His people here on earth, but under the New Covenant He also brings us to Himself in Heaven.)
-Destination (No longer merely Canaan, but a place of true spiritual rest where we will experience the peace and joy and fulfillment of what we were really meant to be.)

Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.

Exodus 31:13-14

The consecration of the New Covenant is Christ’s Own blood on the real mercy seat, where He applied His shed blood once for all on the Law of God – on the Justice of God – fulfilling it, satisfying it. Is it any wonder that cherubim are pictured staring with awe over the mercy seat atop the Ark of the Covenant?

What grace and mercy to simply be set free from Egypt and left to wander! But no, even better! To be sent with directions to a fertile land of their own! But no, even better still! To be made like angels, the servants of a kind master! But no, better yet still! We are to be ever in the arms and gracious love of God Almighty Himself – His blood-bought children!

Stop thinking of yourself as lucky or proud or deserving or an object of pity or obscurity. Let’s think of ourselves as those who know the true God, and who know why He made us and for what He made us.

Darkness Under the Sun

April 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Posted in Ecclesiastes | 16 Comments
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King Solomon was looking at life from an earthly, temporal point of view, and he came to these conclusions:

1. Life is vain because of its monotony.
2. Life is vain because of the limits of wisdom.
3. Life is vain because of the limits of wealth.

I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts. So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 2:8-11

Solomon was the richest man in the Bible – maybe of all time. He was the Bill Gates of his day. However, no one can buy his way into Heaven or out of eternity. Somebody once said that if money can’t buy happiness, at least it will allow you to afford your favorite kind of misery. Money can be a valuable tool. You can’t eat cash, but you can buy food with it. You can’t keep warm with it, but you can buy fuel with it. This quote once appeared in the Wall Street Journal: “Money is a universal passport to everywhere except Heaven; and a universal provider of everything except happiness.”

For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.

Ecclesiastes 1:21

You may have seen the bumper sticker that says, “He who dies with the most toys wins,” but this is not true. When you go to see God, you won’t be judged for how nice a boat you have, or how impressive your music collection was. The Apostle Paul described life as if it were a race, but that race is not a race to financial security. It is a race to become more Christ-like. The preacher in Ecclesiastes tells us that, not only can we not take it with us, but we can’t control it anymore after we’re gone. Some of the most agonized-over and detailed legal documents are wills and trusts. There is nothing wrong with wanting to provide for your family after you die, but when we spend so much energy trying to make sure our descendants have an easier time of it than we did, we might be doing them a disservice. Sometimes, working to achieve things for ourselves is how God makes us into who He wants us to be.

King Solomon felt that:

4. Life is vain because it has an end.

We know that this is true only in a limited sense.

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Hebrews 9:27

The wise man’s eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all.

Ecclesiastes 2:14

The idea that we’re all going to die can be a depressing thought. It is one of the reasons why there is so much “escapist” entertainment.

There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.

Ecclesiastes 2:24

If we are not careful, we will focus so much of our time, our energy, our money, on entertainment, that we will not have anything other than shallow entertainment to offer the people we care about when we find them suffering. Movies, music, television, and pop culture are no substitute for Biblical comfort, counseling, and promises when someone is truly in pain.

However, there is an opposite extreme to mindless entertainment that can also be vain. If we become so fixated on our own sorrows that they swallow us up, we will become “depressed.” There is a plague of depression in our society today. I realize that some of this is caused by actual physical conditions or chemical imbalances in the brain, but a great deal of it comes from being focused only on what’s happening “under the sun.” Without the assurance of a life beyond this world with a kind and loving God, there is a tendency to think, “We know death is coming anyway, so we might as well stop living now and get used to it.” That’s the view “under the sun.” But “over” the sun – “above the sun” – God wants us to enjoy life and have peace and hope and contentment.

But godliness with contentment is great gain.

I Timothy 6:6

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

Philippians 4:11

Ye are blessed of the LORD which made heaven and earth. The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.

Psalm 115:15-16

The Lord does want us to have fun – but with Godliness. And He wants us to be content!

The Redeemer Is Prophesied

June 6, 2011 at 11:01 am | Posted in Bible Studies, Genesis | 24 Comments
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I am now getting near the end of a long series of posts on the Book of Genesis. Since Genesis is the first book of the Bible, it has been fun to point out several things, ideas, or words, which occur for the first time in Genesis. We have seen the first plants and animals, the first man and woman, the first marriage, the first sin, the first murder, the first song, the first tears, the first rain, and the first interpreter.

Now we will look at the first time a very special Bible word is used in Scripture: “redeemed.”

The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.

Genesis 48:16

The Hebrew word is ga’al, and it means “to buy back,” or “to pay the price to set someone free from slavery.” When a sinner trusts Jesus Christ as his Savior, he is set free from the slavery of sin.

The concept of redemption is a key to understanding God’s plan of salvation, and it is a concept about which the Lord has much to say in the Bible. Below is a brief study guide on the Biblical concept of redemption:

Q. What was the price of redemption?
A. The precious blood of Christ. (I Peter 1:19)

Q. Can it be paid for with something else of value?
A. No, silver and gold are corruptible (I Peter 1:18), but the blood of Christ is incorruptible.

Q. To what were we enslaved?
A. Sin – such as serving divers lusts, hating one another, living in envy, living for self (Titus 3:3), and to vain conversation or empty living. (I Peter 1:18)

Q. What are we set free to do?
A. To serve the Lord diligently, not to be slothful or lazy. (Romans 12:11)

Q. Who is the Redeemer?
A. Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (Colossians 1:13-14)

Q. How did the Redeemer first appear?
A. As a young child. (Luke 2:25-40)

Q. How does the Redeemer continue to work?
A. As a Mediator. (Hebrews 9:14-15 and Job 9:32-33)

Q. How long does redemption last?
A. Redemption is eternal. (Hebrews 9:11-12)

Q. How long will the Redeemer last?
A. He always has been, always is, and always will be: “He lives” (perpetual present tense). (Job 19:25)

Q. Redemption sets our bodies free from the slavery of sin, but what about our souls?
A. The price has been paid for our eternal souls to be set free. (Psalm 34:22)

Q. How should being redeemed make us feel?
A. Our lips and souls should sing and rejoice. (Psalm 71:23)

Q. Do we deserve redemption?
A. No, God’s mercy allowed our redemption. (Psalm 44:26)

Q. Can anyone other than Jesus be powerful, influential, or wealthy enough to redeem me?
A. No, true redemption is through Christ alone. (Psalm 49:6-9)

Q. How much time is there before it is too late to be redeemed?
A. The offer of redemption is for a limited time only – you must by faith receive Jesus, and trust in the price He paid, before you die and before He comes back. (Hebrews 9:27 and Luke 21:27-28)

Q. Should we keep quiet about our redemption?
A. No, the redeemed of the Lord should say so. (Psalm 107:2)

Q. What is the role of the Holy Spirit in redemption?
A. He seals us unto the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)

R.S.V.P. Before You R.I.P.

May 5, 2009 at 2:44 pm | Posted in Eternity, Ezekiel, Salvation | 12 Comments
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Very often, at the end of a church service, there will be a time of what is called “invitation.” This is when people who feel that the Lord’s Spirit has spoken to them through the preaching of His Word may come to the front of the church and pray with, or receive Biblical counseling from, the pastor or another spiritual leader. The area between the first row of seats or pews, and the pulpit, is sometimes called the “altar.” During funeral services, it is often the place where the coffin is set, as well.

https://i1.wp.com/www.themafamily.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Paula-I-at-Joes-Casket.jpg

Sadly, for many people, the first time in their whole lives they come to the altar is when they are wheeled there in their own coffin. Possibly even more tragic, though, are those who attend funerals, and are unaffected by the graphic illustrated sermon on display. I have seen people attend the funeral of a loved one who died prematurely due to drug or alcohol abuse, or due to the effects of an immoral lifestyle. As these people pass by the coffin to pay their last respects, they seem to be grieving or seriously shaken (and no doubt they are). Then, they proceed out of the church and immediately return to the type of actions and lifestyle which caused their loved one’s death.

Surely, these people do not think that they are the exceptions to God’s rule that people do not live forever.

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Hebrews 9:27

What seems more likely is that they have the attitude of the people who heard the prophet Ezekiel’s warnings.

Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, The vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off.

Ezekiel 12:27

The Israelites in this passage of Scripture thought there might be truth to the prophet’s warnings that judgment would come upon them, but, since he had been prophesying for a while, and nothing had happened yet, God’s judgment must be far off. They even had quaint little sayings and proverbs which made a mockery of the seriousness of God’s impending judgment. God’s response to this, relayed through Ezekiel, was that the consequences of our sins are always nearer than we think.

Therefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; There shall none of my words be prolonged any more, but the word which I have spoken shall be done, saith the Lord GOD.

Ezekiel 12:28

It was about six years after this prophecy that the Babylonians broke through the city walls of Jerusalem and brought disaster and destruction upon God’s people.

Do not wait for some mythically future “right time” to respond to the Holy Spirit’s invitation. When you are prompted by Him, move with urgency. Generally speaking, there are two things that keep people from confessing and forsaking their sin, and from calling upon the Lord for forgiveness. One is pride. (“What will people think of me?”) The other is procrastination. (“I’ll get right with God one day…”) When David returned to the cities of Israel, gloriously victorious in his wars against the Philistines, the women of Israel sang a song, comparing him to King Saul. They sang,

Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.

I Samuel 18:7

If you are putting off the invitation to respond to God’s Word in your life today, my song to you is: “Pride hath slain his thousands, and procrastination his ten thousands.” Do not presume upon God’s grace a day longer. Call upon Jesus Christ this very moment.

plenty of time

Professing Atheists Fear the Bible

February 10, 2009 at 9:51 am | Posted in ProfessingAtheists | 8 Comments
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Professing Atheist: For the fools out there who don’t understand, I give you evolution: Living things resemble their parents.

Christian: Living things resemble their parents: “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.” Genesis 1:24. They sure do!

Professing Atheist: Atheists believe the bible isn’t true. So saying the bible says that atheists are wrong is an argument from discredited authority. What’s next? Gays are sinful because the bible says so? Women should submit to their husbands? Oh, wait- never mind.

Christian: The issue for professing atheists is not whether the Bible says that homosexual acts are sinful, or whether spouses should submit to one another in Christ-honoring love. The real issue is that ALL have sinned. (Romans 3:23) And that all will stand before God in judgment one day. (Hebrews 9:27)

Professing Atheist: Please do not try to rewrite how christians feel about gays. We all know…

Christian: It doesn’t matter “how Christians feel.” What matters is what God has said. That’s the standard by which we’ll all be judged.


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