ETERNAL LIFE MATTERS
The greatest future plan one can ever make regards one’s ultimate concluding fate—at the end, everyone will meet with God.
The time will come when each will die
One will release that final sigh
When life’s total actions, fully recorded
—A legal case accusing the departed
(And, sans real repentance, no part discarded)
Which no defendant can deny
Will thus convict—A last goodbye
THE OTHERWISE INEVITABLE
The bewitching nature of this world causes humanity to neglect any thought of the next world. The strong gravitational focus on the here and now is such that one’s greatest priority is most often neglected or even rejected. One may plan to the nth degree regarding the things of this life and even prearrange end-of-life priorities and responsibilities yet never even think to consider the status of one’s soul or eternal destination.
This means people either do not believe in eternal life or simply do not treat it seriously, or if they do, assume they are going to a good place whatever it may be and thus disregard any idea of merit other than, in a general sense, thinking of themselves as a “good” person according to their own estimation who could not possibly end up in the bad place.
From a Biblical perspective, however, the default position IS the bad place. The bad place is where everyone goes or is going, instead of the other way around, unless a profound life-changing choice is made to radically alter that horrific inevitable course.
RUNNING WITH SCISSORS
The nature of sin is such that people are largely blinded to it and unaware of its eternal consequences. They are also often unaware of sin’s effect in the present. Sin is seen as something that might or might not exist whose effect is not always clear or immediately forthcoming. In other words, one often gets away with some sinful action, sinful lifestyle, or unrepentant sinning in general and therefore has no fear of impending justice. People often learn this as children in that they are not always “caught” or comparatively rarely caught and thus incur no penalty, and causally apply this unfortunate learning experience as adults. This manner of thinking eliminates any desire for behavior modification. It allows for a “if it feels good do it” mentality even though, for some, the worst behaviors may successfully be avoided in that one’s conscience still has a good effect at least to that degree.
Of course, other people rarely got away with stuff as children. For various reasons some had a desire for righteousness—because their conscience was always working properly and they had no desire to override it—they often ratted on themselves in that they knew they were terrible liars and had no stomach for deceiving others—and also because they simply could not live with themselves without confession or attempting to make things right. Such a personal attitude is rare, however, without some form of moral supervision, parental or otherwise, or an enforced clearly understood equitable external code.
CONSENSUAL SINS AND SOCIAL INS
Paradoxically, the majority appears to have an awareness of the concept of karma, in that “what goes around comes around,” but not so much in a specific sense or when two “consenting adults” engage in sinful behavior, for example. This problem grows exponentially worse when “consenting” social groups or even large cultures agree that certain aberrant behaviors and activities are perfectly permissible as long as no one uses force or otherwise coercive behavior. The idea here is that two or more can make an unwritten contract or join a group with a particular social contract and as long as everybody remains on the same page then all is well. Intelligent people surmise, though, that such faulty consent is nothing more than group license in that these phony social unions merely enforce their own distinct code canons which often coddle and shield its members from conscience-rendered judgments. It is a case of willfully surrendering one’s independence to judge right and wrong to a group dynamic formed to allow sin, though they do not call it that, but something innocuous like “free expression.” Here’s how Paul described it:
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron… [1Timothy 4:1-2 KJV]
Regardless of one’s motive, it is still a case of sacrificing the higher ideal of personal independent thought and action, that which allows for the best outcomes when sufficiently put to the test, for mere peer affirmation and loose inclusion in an otherwise questionable group not subjected to any advanced moral standard. We have seen in these days the greatest outworking of such cultish groups through the massive influence of social media.
Though human beings in general have a sense of justice, especially injustices perpetrated against themselves, they have less understanding of the effect of their personal sins and injustices against others and may also be quite apathetic concerning them. Some sins can obviously be far-reaching and have a substantial impact on others though the perpetrator may be oblivious. In other words, the committing of sins and crimes is motivated by pure selfishness and illicit personal gain, usually against innocent victims, which portends no concern for those wronged. It also reveals a sense of justice completely out of whack and heavily weighted toward the justification of the guilty party and such parties always manage to somehow justify their dishonest and fraudulent behavior.
This also involves another blind spot—that of one’s behavior toward God. This almost always escapes the attention of most people who never acknowledge God’s presence and therefore have no concept that some of their sinful behavior is not only an affront to God but actual sin against Him. You see, whenever one sins against another person as illustrated in the prior paragraph, the trespass can only be made right relationally by confessing the sin to the person who was wronged. We call it an apology. Most never see the need to apologize to God.
This is not as true among those with a Christian ethic, however. Priority one is obeying the greatest commandment. Priority two is obeying the second greatest:
One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” [Mark 12:28-31]
Christians are taught to be humble, understanding, slow to anger, and willing to take a hit so as not to cause a greater problem. Christians are taught to apply the Golden Rule, to treat others the way they wish to be treated, and to forgive. A Christian’s ultimate model is the Lord Jesus. They try to follow His example. Whoever tries to do this in a dedicated conscientious manner will have success at it or at least a much greater chance at success. His model is not only greatly beneficial to others but also produces peace and contentment for the individual. Most importantly, those of contrite heart who truly repent to God, stop sinning, and dedicate themselves to obeying the Lord Jesus will not only receive the gift of righteousness but will also gain eternal life. Their names will be recorded.
THE FINAL JUDGMENT
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. [Revelation 20:11-15]
THE LAMB’S BOOK OF LIFE
The term “Book of Life” occurs eight times in Scripture, once in Psalms 69:28, once in Philippians 4:3, and six times in the Book of Revelation. We have already seen two of these occurrences in the preceding passage. What follows are the other four occurrences. Though the term is relatively rare in the Bible, it is not so in the final book, due likely to the subject matter at hand and the Lord’s emphasis on eternal fates and properly addressing the legal culmination of justice regarding particular earthly matters and His spiritual covenant. We must, therefore, pay close attention to the context here. We must also acknowledge the Book of Life’s very existence and eternal importance.
Accordingly, a person can only have his or her name entered in this book prior to physical death. Also, though one’s name be written there, one may also have his or her name possibly removed at some point prior to passing from this life. The following verses of Scripture reveal that one’s name in the Book of Life will play the deciding role in one’s eternal judgment. It must therefore be one’s top priority in life to fulfill the requirements of gaining entry to this all important book and also insuring that one’s name remains there. You will notice from the tone of Scripture in these verses that the Lord is extremely serious and, of course, necessarily so. He will not tolerate any watered-down attitudes or spiritual complacency. Eternal life is on the line. He gave His life to gain it for us.
One must also note that in the letters to the seven churches, the only one in which this term appears is the one to the church of Sardis. In this letter the Lord reveals a very close parallel to American Christianity in general. May we all obey His command.
Eternal life matters.
“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” [Revelation 3:1-6]
And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?” There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him. And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven. It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear. [Revelation 13:3-9]
“The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come.” [Revelation 17:8]
I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. [Revelation 21:22-27]
© 2023 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Posted on March 3, 2023, in Teaching and tagged America, Book of Life, Discipleship, Door of Death, Eternal Life, Final Judgment of Souls, If You Love Me You Will Keep My Commandments, Lord Jesus, Real Christianity The Nature of the Church, Real Justice, Revelation, Sin and Evil, The Fallen World of Sinful Humanity, The Great Awakening, The Great White Throne Judgment, The Sentence of Hell. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.
Outstanding, RJ. One thing I became unhappily aware of during my years as a therapist was the way “sin” has become nothing more than a “mistake,” and that shame over our behavior needs to be erased from our thinking. We are all good, say the gurus of mental health. We just need to love ourselves, and everything will be fine. Religion, and especially the Bible, are counterproductive to mental and emotional health.
Jesus did not die for my feelings. He died for my sin.
Thanks Linda. I appreciate it. Great comment.
And this ridiculous transition that has taken place has transcended far beyond the mental health field and its comparatively few professionals. It is part of what I keep reiterating here as the abject failure of American Christianity in general which began approximately a half century ago in which the majority of the professional ministerial class began shying away from preaching sin and repentance. The mental health field also began changing at that time. Of course, some denominations had already long since gone off the deep end in this area but others were maintaining the truth of Scripture they had always taught, though to varying degrees.
Now, whether it was “hellfire” preachers doing the right thing their way or more low key ministers doing roughly the same, the point is that they were preaching BIBLE. And one cannot preach Bible without identifying sinners for what they are. Sinners are supposed to be outed. They are supposed to be convicted. They are supposed to suffer shame. This is all part of the process for sinners to see the need for salvation. I am so glad my first pastor preached about sin to me. I never would have been saved otherwise.
However, if sin is simply a miscue, a mistake, from which a person can learn from and go on about their business, nothing spiritual changes except that they’ve been told they are not sinners, meaning they are just fine, which means they are in no need of repentance. This attitude turns the Word of God into a joke and does great damage to the perfect and powerful character of the Lord Jesus and His teachings.
All such Christian ministers who have adopted this new view are at least as bad as Judas Iscariot if not worse. Unless they change course they are all certainly going to hell. By this time, such most likely constitute a majority. Trying to get through to them is pretty much impossible, though. The echo chamber has become far too large. What this means it that each individual Christian must take it upon himself or herself to maintain their relationship with the Lord largely through their own efforts and have less dependence on the Christian professionals because the attitude you speak of has invaded almost everything.
Some talk about the “snowflakes” which comprise so much of the younger generation who simply have no capacity to handle any form of critique. These are very weak people who apparently must be coddled or will fall apart. But the same is true with so many Christians of our day who are exactly the same. They have never been subjected to real preaching and solid Biblical truth. They are not aware of the Lord’s real teachings and do not care to know because such is far too upsetting. But that’s the point, as you well know.
The sad thing about all of this is that many if not most are not getting the help they need from the professionals and the same is true for a likely majority of Christians. I wrote something about this very subject in my book Real Christianity several years ago, as follows:
THE COMMON DENOMINATOR OF THE UNREAL CHURCH AND THE SECULAR WORLD
The world has come to accept much of what the unreal church is about but only because each has so much in common with the other. The light of the unreal assembly is too weak to penetrate the soul of a person, and thus, hidden sin remains hidden. This leaves the holder of the sin in virtual comfort, knowing his or her sin will not be exposed. In the real Church, the light of God reaches every dark place that exists within an individual and brings almost instantaneous conviction, that is, God makes a person very aware of any resident sinful condition and that it must be dealt with.
Is this any different than having a medical doctor diagnose a person’s disease? Would it be better for a doctor to remain silent and simply let his patient die? This is what happens in the Church of the Reversed. The disease of sin is rarely dealt with and if it is, no real cure is prescribed because the members lack the creative power to bring forth new life. Thus, the secular individual who cannot commit fully to the Lord will find great comfort in the arms of the unreal church, not because he has received the peace of God or has had his sin removed, but because he has been given a clean bill of health by religious quacks who either don’t know about or don’t care about the sin which consumes him.
Many of those who have been used and deceived by the unreal church, and at some point become aware of it, end up hating the true Church as well since they think the two are one and the same. Others have believed lies about the Lord’s community and fight against it, or at least remain apart from it. So many people have been burned by unrepentant religious idiots that it has caused the simple telling of the good news to be much more difficult due to the increased opposition. The deception of today is often strong enough to persuade a person to reject life or retire from his quest to find it due to the unsavory necessity of wandering through religious garbage dumps and churchy minefields. However, if the seeker of life has a mind to press onward through the fog, Jesus will assist him in his passage, and the final destination will prove to be well worth the journey.
[© Copyright 2001. Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.]
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You know, people were often critical of Billy Graham for a variety of reasons, but one thing he could not be accused of was watering down the doctrine of sin and salvation. We should follow that example.
I agree to a point Linda. In the early days he was very strong, drew a distinction between sinners and the faithful, preached on the need for salvation, and kept the message relatively fundamental and on point, as evangelists do. He almost always had altar calls, obviously a very good thing. But he rarely or never preached the Book of Acts.
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I’ve often wondered about that. I guess we’ll get the answers when we meet in heaven 🙂
I wonder RJ, what it was like back in the biblical times of how people thought about life and death. Meaning, now a days people collect so much stuff and seem to thrive on how much stuff they have. Bigger, better, more expensive stuff. Where as people back then had very little, well it was still a mixture of both. Those who had a lot and those who had little. For me, I can only say what I have been through, I never wanted much. I have travelled light my entire life. When it was time for me to move on, the only stuff I had would fit in my truck and I would leave for the next place. Today, there is nothing that I have that I would not want to give up for exchange of being with our Father. I am ready to go when ever He calls my name. I love taking photos and sharing them these days, but I do this to share the beauty of His creation around us. I am thankful for being able to do this. But my goal is to hear Him call my name. That thought over powers anything here on earth. 🙂 thank you RJ.
Thank you for such a sincere comment. Being registered in the Book of Life is the greatest thing that could ever happen. Those who love the Lord cannot help but tear up at the prospect, knowing it would be due only to what the Lord did for them in purchasing their salvation. Though His great love for us may be hard to understand there is no doubt it is real and can be felt. Salvation is not automatic or necessarily easy to be applied and according to Scripture must be worked out. But we are always confident in Him and by that are confident we will be with Him one day. Until then we all have our work to do, that He has called us to, whatever it may be. May we all be able to excel for Him as He did for us.
Blessings to you Sandra.
Thank you RJ.