Will I recognize my parents in heaven?

Will I recognize my parents in heaven?

Many Bible scholars agree that Christians will recognize Christians who have gone to heaven before them. That assurance is based on the example of Jesus who, after his resurrection appeared in his glorified body yet was still known to his followers. In Matthew 17:1-3 we have the record of Jesus meeting Moses and Elijah while Peter, James and John watched and they recognized them. These examples give us great hope that we will definitely know those we do on Earth who put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. That is one reason why it is so important for us who believe to tell our loved ones and friends about Christ. 

What we will look like in heaven is somewhat a mystery. We are promised that we will have resurrected and glorified bodies like Jesus. But Jesus was killed in the prime of his life. He did not reach old age on earth as will many of us. So we don’t know what physical characteristics we will have in heaven. Will everyone be in the prime of life even though they died in old age? The Bible does not reveal this answer. However, in the book, Heaven is Real, a young boy’s near death experience suggests this as a possibility. And what about little children? Will they be children or have matured into young adults? Again, it is a question to which we will discover the answer once we are there. Certainly those who died as infants will be in heaven. While all who are born inherit a sin nature, infants, little ones, while in their age of innocence will be ushered into the throne of God. 

We will probably all be surprised at who we meet in heaven and who is not there. It is likely that Adam and Eve will be there. Others we might expect to meet would include Noah, Jonah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Daniel, Moses, Joshua, King David, Joseph and Mary, John the Baptist, the Apostles, the Prophets, and more recent persons like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, John Adams, Patrick Henry, John Jay, Andrew Jackson, Fanny Crosby, Charles Wesley, John Knox, Martin Luther King, Ronald Reagan, Chuck Colson and millions upon millions of others who have put their trust and faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. And finally and most importantly each believer will have direct face-to-face fellowship with God and with Jesus Christ. 

If you are interested in reading more about heaven, we suggest The Heaven Answer Book, by Billy Graham and Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven. These books by notable Christian authors offer Biblically-based insights into heaven that are realistic and dependable.

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What does it mean that the wages of sin is death?

What does it mean that the wages of sin is death?

​First, we need to remember that God is holy and will not have sin in any form in His presence. Basically, sin is disobedience. Breaking God’s commandments and laws is sin. Jesus even went further; he said that hateful thoughts and the like are also sin.  So, by these standards, all have sinned and fallen way short of God’s standard of perfection.
Consequently, with sin came death to mankind. This is the ‘price to be paid.’ Death is universal. All men and women die. The Bible says in Hebrews 9:27, “it is appointed unto man once to die and then the judgment.”

There is no purgatory and there is no reincarnation.
It is important to remember that death separates but does not annihilate. In other words, when a person’s body dies, it is not over. In fact, there are three deaths as a result of man’s sin. This is important to understand.

  1. Spiritual Death: 
    The original sin happened in the garden of Eden. It separated man, Adam, from God spiritually; this is spiritual death.
  2. Physical Death:  
    Adam’s sin brought about natural death which separates the spirit and the soul from the body.
  3. Eternal Death:  For the unsaved there is final death which separates man from the mercy of God forever.

This eternal separation means that man will continue to exist but without hope and without ever experiencing God’s love again. He or she is then condemned for all eternity; condemned to a place where Jesus said, “there is utter darkness and weeping and gnashing of teeth; a place from which there is no hope of escape.

It is clear from God’s word that death is certain and without faith in Christ it is the worst possible outcome a human being could ever experience.

Finally, one last thought on death to keep in mind. God sends no one to Hell. Actually, people choose to go there when they reject God’s loving offer of grace and salvation in Christ. The good news is that in Christ we have passed from death to life. (John 5:24)  

Is Evil an Illusion or Reality?

Is Evil an Illusion or Reality?

Some religions suggest that evil is just an illusion. That it is a condition of the mortal mind. Others have said it is a result of ignorance and superstitions and if you don’t think about it evil will go away.

Our life experiences argue otherwise. We lock our cars and houses. We have security systems. We have laws against murder, rape, child abduction, lying under oath, etc. Yes evil is real.

It came about when Adam and Eve used their gift of free will to disobey God. There was only one commandment and they chose not to keep it. At that moment the human race and the earth began to experience the opposite of God’s goodness, evil.

Evil is the absence of God. We see it expressed in pain, suffering, discord, war and death. The ‘good news’ is that God reigns and one day evil will be overthrown. All those who put their trust in him will live eternally where there is no pain, no suffering and no death.

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Why did Jesus have to die?

Why did Jesus have to die?

He didn’t have to die. However, he loved you and me so much that he chose to die in our place so that we would not have to suffer the punishment for our sins.  

The concept of a blood sacrifice as atonement for sin goes back to the time that man rebelled against God and the perfect creation he made for human beings. This sacrifice was codified by God when he set apart the Israelites and provided them with guidelines for living. That law included a system of sacrifices to atone for different sins. Among the sacrifices were those of animals without blemish, signifying perfection. (Leviticus 22:20) These sacrifices had to be repeated over and over since people kept sinning against God. Through the death of Jesus, God provided a once-for-all way, for the sins of men and women to be atoned.

In the New Testament, we read that John the Baptist recognized Jesus as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) This is a reference to the perfect, sacrificial lamb that was called for in the Old Testament law.

Another John, the disciple of Jesus, who wrote an eyewitness account of the three years he spent with Jesus, explained the ultimate sacrifice that was made by Jesus, the Messiah. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17)  This made Jesus the ultimate sacrifice —satisfying for all time the requirements of God’s justice.

The apostle Paul wrote that “Christ died for our sins, according to Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3) because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). This simple statement of fact reminds us that our personal sin, our rebellion from God, has us heading to judgement and eternal separation from God.

However, we do not have to suffer throughout all eternity.  

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross shows the depths of God’s love for us. (Romans 5:6-8) But it is through his resurrection that we can see God’s triumph over death. When we acknowledge that we are sinners deserving of death and accept the gift of Jesus’s sacrifice on our behalf, we can be set free of the condemnation of sin and begin a journey that will culminate in everlasting life in the presence of God.

I’m afraid of the virus, is that normal?

I’m afraid of the virus, is that normal?

Yes. Fear is part of the fallen human condition. When we are confronted with something that may alter our future, we become fearful. With the 24-hour news cycle reminding us of ever-increasing numbers of cases of COVID-19, blasting out stories of deaths and body bags, and reminding us of our dire financial straits, fear is inevitable. As the disease enters our communities and we hear of a friend or neighbor that has taken ill or died, we wonder if “I’m next.”

We’re also asking how this event will change the lives of our loved ones. And we’re probably wondering why God has let this happen. Contemplating these questions leads to anxiety and fear.

Fortunately, God knows us better than we know ourselves and wants us to turn our focus from our personal situation and our inward focus to an upward focus on Him and an outward focus on others.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

The Bible has a lot to say about fear. We read of great men of God who became fearful. And, we saw how God turned fear into Joy. When David was being pursued by men who wanted to kill him, he cried out to God. “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you,” he wrote in Psalm 56:3. From the many Psalms David wrote we see a man who was regularly afraid but knew that God was there for him, no matter the outcome.

The apostle Paul encountered many life-threatening situations and shared what he discovered with others. In his letter to the Church in the Greek City of Philippi he wrote: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Paul knew that we all fear, but he wanted people to understand that fear did not have to control us. He reminded his disciple, Timothy: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

In 1 John 4:18, Jesus’ disciple, John, reminded readers “that perfect love drives out fear.” Here for what is translated as “perfect” John used the Greek word, teleios, a word that means complete, finished or fully grown. He is reminding Christians that when we refocus on God’s love, a love so great that He was willing to sacrifice his own son, that we might know peace in this life and a fear-free eternity with him. It’s a journey, not a destination.

As you meditate on scripture, sing songs of joy and hope, and seek ways to help those around you who are fearful and suffering, you will find your fears receding into God’s love. In a 100-year-old gospel hymn, we are reminded that “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through; My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.” COVID-19 is part of this world, not the next. It may make you sick. It may result in your financial ruin, and it might even cause your death. But don’t let fear paralyze you. Don’t be afraid to tell others of your fears and even seek professional help if necessary. But right now, stop and direct your thoughts to God. Tell him your fears, ask for his help and listen quietly for the Holy Spirit to begin guiding your thoughts.    

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Is the Coronavirus God’s punishment?

Is the Coronavirus God’s punishment?

Since the beginning of time, plagues have altered the course of history. Some were definitely by the hand of God to punish people for their sins and to bring about a change in behavior. (Exodus 7:14-11:10) Others have been through the natural course of a fallen world. Every living organism eventually dies. Our bodies are giant chemical factories that are continually destroying cells and replacing them with new ones.

Dangerous organisms continually test our body’s defenses. Viruses live within us all the time. Sometimes a virus mutates and our body struggles to recognize and defend itself from the mutating virus that may attack and destroy other cells. All these chemical and biological actions have been created by God. He designed them for good, and created mankind in his image so that he could commune with us. But man rebelled against God and that’s where the perfect harmony between man and God broke down. (Romans 5:12)

The resulting chaos on earth and the death that accompanies it are the punishment for man’s sin. So, in that sense, the current COVID-19 crisis is a result of God’s wrath. But God’s chief adversary, the devil, the embodiment of evil, has been given temporary dominion over the earth. He is responsible for the pain, loss and fear that billions of people are now experiencing.

People are suffering and dying from the virus, but people are also suffering and dying from other diseases, wars, famines, and accidents. Death will always be part of the human condition, but Jesus came to give life. (John 10:10) His death and resurrection opened the doors to a pain-free and death-free life everlasting with God.

Whether or not the Coronavirus is a direct punishment sent by God for the sinful action of men and women around the world, we know that through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, we can know peace in the midst of uncertainty and fear. (Isaiah 41:10 and John 14:27) As with plagues in the past, people are searching their hearts looking for answers. Many are calling out to God for His mercy. (Revelation 21:4) He stands ready to extend it to all who trust in Him. (Revelation 3:20)

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