Death and Life

About a year ago I was visiting a museum in New York City and I found myself totally engrossed in the image of a sculpture, a small pieta of Jesus, laying in repose after the crucifixion, with an angel on each side – one in mourning for our Lord’s death, the other raising a hand to signal the coming resurrection.  As I stood in silence staring at this sculpture before me, I was moved to tears as this one image brought it all to the forefront of my mind – “yes, this is Christ, in death, yet still in life with the coming resurrection.”  The most complete visualization of hope – knowing that through his great suffering and ultimate sacrifice of his life for ours, He will conquer sin and death once and for all, so that we may live in grace, redeemed in the eyes of God.

Pieta _ Soldani_terracotta 1715

Pieta in terracotta by Soldani, 1715   The artist depicts the crucified Christ, the angel to the left reflects sorrow and extends a hand in similar repose to the nail-scarred hand of Jesus.  The angel to the right offers a kiss and represents the hope of the resurrection to come.

Today we live with more uncertainty and fear in an unsettled world filled with anger and seemingly without hope – who could even imagine a society in total lock-down as a deadly virus runs rampant across the entire globe – and the recent protests and civil unrest related to race relations and the police.   Many are wondering, is this the end times that the Bible warns about? Jesus told his disciples in Matthew Chapter 24 verses 3 through 8,  And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” And Jesus answered and said unto them, “Take heed that no man deceive you.  For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.  And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.  All these are the beginning of sorrows.”

Certainly, many things we see today could be a signal that we have indeed entered into the “beginning of sorrows” that Jesus referenced.  Just as our own lives will one day end, we don’t dwell on it, but our own mortality is inevitable.  We as believers also know the end of times will come, as foretold in the Bible, according to God’s plans and no man knows the date or hour, only the Father in heaven.  Based on that, I can’t say “the end is near” or whether or not we are truly entering the “beginning of sorrows” – but given the signs that Jesus referenced, I do feel that we are nearing that time.  So how does that relate to mankind right here and now? To the reader, maybe you aren’t sure about your own condition, spiritually or otherwise, and maybe you would like to know more – I encourage you to read on as we continue with our discussion of death and life.

Every person has the opportunity to reconcile with God through our savior Jesus Christ, but it is not out of fear that we should seek redemption, but from a place of surrender as we acknowledge our own separation from God, our sins and transgressions, and then accept the free gift of salvation through Christ. God does not blame us for existing within this fallen world, but because God is perfection, He can not dwell with us unless we are redeemed within this lost existence – which is why He gave His Son, Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, to sacrifice his very life so that we could be made new.  This ultimate sacrifice by God towards mankind is the free gift that brings us into that close relationship with our Creator that was intended from the beginning.  This is the only way to redemption, as pointed out by our Lord in John Chapter 14, verse 6,  Jesus saith unto him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Plain and simple, Jesus is the answer to that age-old question that we all face – is this brief period of time that we spend on this earth all that there is? What happens after we take our final breath – do we simply return to the earth as human debris buried and eventually forgotten – or is there more? Most people spend their time avoiding that question or they work it out in their own mind, creating their own version of a god – usually it goes like this – “I believe in a higher being that loves us and when we die we go on to a better place.”  This is a dangerous approach to a serious question – one that impacts our eternal life beyond this brief period on earth – but for so many, it helps settle the issue or it provides some form of relief so they don’t have to get down into the weeds of spiritual life.  Honestly, to a certain degree, I get it – many people that I speak with about faith and religion are so put off by the modern-day church in America that they would rather spend their time anywhere else than in a seat on Sunday morning surrounded by all these nicely dressed do-gooders.  I can’t say that I blame them – the church in the last seventy or so years has become more of a club than an outreach to the masses and the message of eternal life, the “Good News” of the Gospel regarding Jesus has been lost in the shuffle.  Television preachers to a great extent have watered down or totally taken the message off course to suit their own desires leaving many wondering why waste their time.  Overall I do not think that our modern-day churches are going to receive the warm welcome by our savior that is expected – collectively so many have dropped the ball.  I could write all day on the topic, in fact, I would encourage you to read our message  Death of the Church – Comfort Zone Christianity which goes much deeper into this sad spiritual decline from within our church of today.  So why should we even bother with these issues? Because we are eternal beings, created by God, and we seek answers because we know there is more, we feel that void in our own lives that can’t be filled with material things or busy careers – we hunger for that fulfilling relationship with God whether we realize it or not.  In this journey of discovery, we need to be careful and heed the warnings of the apostle Paul in his writings to Timothy (2 Timothy chapter 3) – where he speaks of those that will create their own form of religion and will hold to a “form of godliness” but will deny the power of God.  Paul warns to avoid such people and beliefs, for the dangers this represents goes far beyond the simple idea of settling the debate internally – it puts those very people at risk of losing everything in eternity.  We see this all around us and far too often in my experiences I hear from people that have not accepted Jesus into their hearts express a “form of godliness” through their own ideas of what a creator or higher being represents to them.  My response to that is to ask a simple question – what do you truly believe and what is that based upon? Have you taken the time to just stop and consider what path you are taking – have you reconciled with God? We are given the gift of salvation, eternal life through Jesus, not by our own works or good deeds, but because God loves us so much that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  That’s the message of hope – you are of great value in the sight of God, our creator.  It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or how you’ve lived your life, either good or bad or indifferent – God’s love is there for you – this free gift of eternal life that through Christ bridges that gap that stands between us and our heavenly Father.  Simply through your one step of faith, believing that Christ died for you and was resurrected by God, that relationship with our creator is fulfilled.  Do you believe in Jesus Christ? Have you ever just sat down and thought it over – what do you believe?

Jesus says in Revelation chapter 3, verse 20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him…” 

Think about it in this context, Jesus chose 12 disciples as his first followers while he walked this earth.  They saw miracles upon miracles, the blind made to see, the lame healed to walk again, even the dead returned to life.  One of the boldest among them, Peter, even having seen these miracles first hand, denied three times that he ever knew Jesus as the soldiers arrested Christ and lead him away to his crucifixion.  We know now that Peter went on to be that “rock” that Jesus had described of him, “upon which I will build my church,” but in those days leading up to the cross, Peter cowered in fear for his own life.  But what happened to bring about such change in Peter following the crucifixion? What changed in him, so much so, that he went on to establish the early church and lead thousands to know and accept Christ as Lord and savior? Peter saw the resurrected Christ – on that third day following the cross, Jesus was risen! It was through this miracle of the resurrection that Peter was changed forever – to stand firm in his faith, to preach the good news of the Gospel, to lead the new church even when the Roman Emperor Nero had him arrested.  Peter could have saved his own life at this point by once again cowering in fear and denying Christ – but Peter knew the truth, he witnessed first hand the death on the cross and the resurrection of Jesus.  This faith would not fail, Peter stood firm and declared Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, even to the point of his own death by crucifixion.  By accounts in the public record, Peter did not feel worthy of death in the same manner as his savior, Jesus, and he requested to be crucified inverted as a final act of submission and respect to his Lord.

That is what we, as believers, celebrate at Easter – the confirmation of God’s eternal plan to rescue mankind from the clutches of our enemy, Satan, through the death and the life of our savior, Jesus Christ.  It confirms “the way, the truth and the life” of which Jesus described himself.  This truth continues to this very day as we annually celebrate the Resurrection, for through Him we are saved to eternal life.  Do you know Christ?  Have you made that profession of faith described in Romans Chapter 10 verse 9,“that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;”  I tell you right now, you can have peace, you can be released from a life of fear and uncertainty – all you have to do is take that first step of faith and accept the truth – Jesus is the true Son of God, he gave his life as a ransom payment for your sins.  All you have to do is believe – it’s that simple.  You don’t have to do anything else, in fact, you can’t do anything to earn this gift from our loving God.  The apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 2 verse 21, “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” 

You see, if we could earn our way to salvation, if we could uphold the laws or through any other manner of living gain a pass into heaven, then it would mean all the suffering and sacrifice of our savior Jesus Christ on that old rugged cross was for nothing. Our good deeds should come as a result of our salvation, not as a way to earn God’s favor.

So once again, I ask you, do you know Jesus? We sincerely want you to take that step of faith and accept the free gift of salvation through your professed belief in Christ right now…today.  Please don’t let this moment pass, you may never have this opportunity again.  Remember this, in the eyes of God, our creator, you have great value – God wants you to take this step of faith and accept his gift to you.  Salvation.  It is here for you today.  Or you can put it off, tell yourself you’re not ready or you’ll think about it later…you can go back to living in a world filled with turmoil, wondering if these signs point to the “beginning of sorrows.”  Remember, once we reach that point, truly the end is near.  Don’t wait, don’t live another day without facing the question and settling the answer once and for all.  Nothing would be worse than one day to discover, your time has passed and you never settled the issue with God.  

If you wish to know more or want to speak with us about salvation – please reach out through this link  –   I want to know more about Jesus and salvation

We also encourage you to read from these messages that will take you through the simple steps of salvation and even includes a sample prayer asking Christ into your heart.  This is what our ministry is all about, sharing the good news with everyone, so that you might take that step of faith and accept Jesus Christ as your savior.

Pathway to Salvation

The Way, the Truth and the Life

Thank you for reading our message of hope and faith, we hope it speaks to your heart.  Please contact us if you’ve made that step of faith or if you have prayer requests or want to know more about this message.  We are here for you.

John Frey –  Director and senior editor, Life Beyond Horizons Ministry

Why Jesus?

Jesus

“Religious faith is above all a sign of faulty thinking, of ignorance;” observed noted atheist, zoologist, and author Richard Dawkins in a recent story published by The Guardian. Mr. Dawkins would further explain his desire, a call to action, was to educate the ill-informed out of their mistakes. He breaks it down into a simple explanation, in which, religion is nothing more than “an organized license to be acceptably stupid.” His two-fold mission is to promote science and demolish religion, by which he has demonstrated a very active and often times combative approach in denouncing the latter.

Christianity is seen by many as a faith of the uninformed, often dismissed by the educated elite as some form of ignorant bliss, a way for the uneducated to manage life and its many challenges while holding onto some ridiculous belief that an ever-present higher being is watching over them. As quoted above, Dawkins “acceptably stupid” label would have to be applied to some of the greatest minds of science that shared a belief in God, including Galileo, Copernicus, Newton and of course, Einstein, who famously stated, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” They will debate with great “facts” of science on their side while mocking and deriding the bible as nothing more than stories passed down from one generation to the next. This overly simplistic dismissal of theology is exactly the type of “ignorance” the atheist throws upon the believer. In reality, to claim science as “fact” versus theology as “fiction,” is to dismiss the very foundation of theory, vis-a-vis the gathering of factual data or phenomena to support a specific group of scientific propositions. I would say to this, not from a religious standpoint but from that of common sense, where would you rather cast your fortunes, on an ever-changing theory of scientific proposition or the unchanging Word of God?

Let us take the example of noted mathematician Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier, who developed a mathematical solution that addressed a scientific problem regarding the highly unusual orbit of Mercury around the Sun. Mercury’s orbit did not fit any known scientific theory of its time, in fact, its unusual pattern of orbit seemed to contradict and baffle science well into the nineteenth century. Le Verrier determined, based upon his own mathematical formulations, that another planet must exist somewhere between the Sun and Mercury that was influencing the orbital patterns through gravitational energy. He went so far as to name this yet undiscovered planet, Vulcan, in honor of the Roman god of fire. Le Verrier’s theory became widely accepted, namely for putting to rest this on-going scientific contradiction, thus becoming scientific “fact” of the day, which heavily influenced European astronomers to the point that hundreds of “sightings” of this new planet began to pour in from Europe and other parts of the globe. When Le Verrier died in 1877 he was highly regarded for having discovered a new planet in our solar system, Vulcan, which had put to rest the unexplained orbital oddities of Mercury. However, the existence of Vulcan, supported by Le Verrier’s scientific “facts” and the hundreds of “confirmed” astronomical sightings that followed, became mere fiction upon the publications in 1915 of Einstein’s theory of relativity which gave new data to the orbital relationship of Mercury around the Sun. Vulcan was unceremoniously retired from existence, although given a nod of appreciation in the sci-fi show Star Trek, as the home planet for the character known as Spock. While the numerous “sightings” of the planet Vulcan became an embarrassment for the field of astronomy, they too were quietly swept under the rug and forgotten. Lacking in pomp and circumstance, the scientific community declared, “Nothing to see here, move along.”

Present this or the myriad of similar examples of scientific “facts” that were later quietly dismissed and swept under the proverbial rug of advanced knowledge, most of the educated elite will justify this as yet another example of the evolving knowledge of science, categorized as a form of progress due to their ability to admit mistakes while improving upon what we know of the world around us. They will further surmise, straight-faced as it were, that it is a credit to their superior abilities to keep an open mind, whereas the static Word of God serves to reinforce their presumptive inference of the closed-mindedness of the religious zealot. It seems beyond hypocritical to embrace science as “fact,” even as they continually change their own outcomes when boxed into the corner of their own illogical conclusions, while theology, having not the need to change the Word of God, is equated to a closed-minded worldview for nothing more than its own unfailing integrity. Science is not without great merit, and we do not choose religion over science, to the contrary, we embrace the advancements in science that allow us to improve our own lives while in many cases we come to a greater understanding of how magnificent the work of God is throughout the world he created.  Science continues to evolve due to the undeniable fact that theory only stands until disproved through the development of new theory. All the while, standing alone, unchanged through the millennia, is the undeniable Word of God. I ask you again, whether you are a believer or not, through common sense, where would you cast your fortunes?

Why Jesus? There are plenty of naysayers willing and able to speak against Jesus, as given by the example of Richard Dawkins who is seen by many today as the leader of the modern atheist movement, but what about the other side of the story, what about Jesus? Why would a non-believer seek to know more about this Christ, savior of the world, as opposed to simply going along with the status quo, taking science on its word and being content? The answer is this, whether we are brought up in the church or not, we all at some point seek to know more about the spiritual world because we are living spirits, eternal beings, made in the image of our Creator. Many atheists find it insulting that children are exposed to religion, fearing it forces beliefs upon them at an impressionable age. They will say it’s irresponsible or even equate this to child abuse. Again, Dawkins does not mince words in this matter, as taken from a recent twitter rant on the topic, “How dare you force your dopey unsubstantiated superstitions on children too young to resist. How DARE you.” At this point, I do have to weigh in on the fact these very same people, including Dawkins, want to get the “theory of evolution”…which is a theory…in front of these same young children and present it as fact in teaching. Let’s not hide behind rhetoric, this is not about the offense of pushing religion on impressionable minds, this is about getting a foothold at an early age with a pagan theory to gain influence and thereby add to the ranks of non-believers. Dawkins wants to crush religion, he is very clear about that. But believers know, whether it is allowed to coexist in the classroom or not, the spirit will search for what the spirit desires.

What we have come to understand, those of us that believe in God, knowing that we are not merely physical beings somehow conjured from the muck and mire of our planet, is that a great spiritual battle is playing out all around us. If you truly do not believe in God, then nothing in the bible should hold any relevance at all. So why does it bring so many atheists to a point of bitterness and severe anger towards the entire concept of God? The answer lies in the reality that there is an on-going war in the spiritual world. We are not just a random collection of atoms, we share in this spiritual existence as beings created by God, given free will as individuals, thus allowing for our informed decision to which side we will stand. We can ignore the spiritual question, seeking out various preoccupations to divert the mind, however, everyone comes to that place and time when you have to face up to it…the eternal question…because we are spiritual beings, the spirit must be fed. We can convince ourselves that it is our choice to accept or deny the very existence of God, when in fact, we are only able to choose which side we will stand. This is why we see atheists lash out with unbridled anger and unmitigated disgust towards believers, they have made their choice, but when they wake each day, God is still there in all his glory. They will claim they are angry because religion is what is wrong with this world and we should stop practicing our faith, it offends them. Yet in America today, religion has been all but removed from the public eye, it is not in schools, civic events, town squares, in fact, you can very easily go days, weeks, months and longer without ever having religion as part of your daily routine. So why the anger and bitterness? We all know the true answer; because each day God is still there and we are still spiritual beings with an innate desire to know Him.

Atheists postulate belief in God is to shut off all reasonable thought and close the mind to all possibilities outside of one limited reality, to purposely remain ignorant, to take the easy way out. They see themselves as true seekers of knowledge, ever evolving to the world around them, refusing to acquiesce with accepted ideas, when in fact, they are running from the truth, refusing to acknowledge their creator. They run, gathering about them as many like-minded doubters as possible as if this were some election or popularity contest, yet after all their misguided efforts to the contrary, God still exists.

Unfortunately, many that choose to ignore God, or worse, deny His existence altogether, will also devalue the very life that He created. A recent twitter thread where many dealt with the question of how to handle a pregnancy if you knew the unborn child had downs syndrome, saw Dawkins offer this flippant reply, “Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.” Such a cold retort, simply toss this one in the trash and give it another try, as if human life were on the same level as buying cottage cheese at the grocery store only to discover it had passed it’s “sell by” date. In his own words, vicious attacks, overall arrogance and disdain for those that disagree, he demonstrates his own distance from God. We should not expect any other type of behavior than this hatred and general disgust aimed at humanity, after all, he has purposely moved as far from God as possible, but to see it is disturbing and shocking. It brings a level of hurt for the things spoken against our heavenly Father, but also a sense of sorrow for his soul, knowing that he has not experienced the complete and unconditional love of our Creator.

What role does the church play in getting the message of faith and forgiveness to the lost world we share today? The question is straightforward, but the answer is as varied as the number of denominations worldwide. Believers are well versed in the great commission found in Matthew chapter 28, to make believers of all nations. However, the application of that charge is not so simple. Some feel persecuted, in many cases rightfully so, which generates an active response in the form of debate, legal actions, and so forth. Many believers in America choose to exercise their faith through the voting process, securing their beliefs within the electorate at the state and national levels. Some get involved in charity work in their local communities, helping feed and clothe those in greatest need. Many others simply occupy a seat on a church pew once a week and go home. I list these few examples, not to place importance on one above the other, but as an observation, while reminding us to slow down and remember the question….why Jesus?

If a non-believer approached you right now and asked you about Jesus, maybe they see something different about you which has piqued their curiosity or possibly they are dealing with turmoil and seek answers. Are you ready to give an account, a testimony, something that would bring a person to a decision for Christ? 1 Peter 3 verse 15 states, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, ” instructing the body of believers in how to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Notice within this verse, Peter points to the scenario whereby the believer is asked to give the reason for the hope they display in their daily life. This tells us, we are to go about our daily activities, at work, running errands, conducting business with others, in a manner that displays our inner hope, that peace that comes from the living Christ that dwells within our hearts. Matthew 5 verse 16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” The greatest testimony we can give is in the demonstration of life with Jesus, conducting ourselves in a manner that separates us from the world, being that dependable and steady influence through the good times and the bad. Remember that the Lord places us in the path of those that are seeking the truth, we must remain faithful in our daily walk with God. Being active in the word through daily devotion and prayer, which gives us the strength we need to persevere through the trials we will face, so that in all things we will honor Christ our savior.

If the non-believer only hears from Christians when we are upset or feeling persecuted, when we litigate in the courts and shout in protest in the streets, why would they decide they need to be part of that belief? Once at a concert, I was with a group of people waiting for the venue to open it’s doors when we found ourselves under attack from a street preacher with a bullhorn. For the next fifteen minutes, he peppered us with an angry attack on our souls. In his eyes, because the music was not to his liking, he condemned us to eternity in hell unless we turned immediately from our wicked ways.  When he finished, everyone had this puzzled look and the reaction was as if a crazy person had just been set loose. I thought about it and wondered, he probably had the best intentions, but his message was lost in his own anger and disgust for sinners. Again, if non-believers were there, as I’m sure they were, I cannot imagine a single one of them walking away thinking to themselves that they want to be part of that belief. Why Jesus?

This is what I know beyond any doubt, I myself am a sinner and daily I fall short of the expectations set forth by my heavenly Father. My life has been unworthy of the love of God, yet while I am still a sinner, God gave me the incredible gift of salvation through his Son, Jesus Christ. I have done nothing to deserve this unconditional love and even on my best day, I am incapable of any actions or good deeds that would earn this favor. Paul reminds in Galatians 2 verse 21, “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” If we could earn our way to salvation, if we could uphold the laws or through any other manner of living gain a pass into heaven, then it would mean all the suffering and sacrifice of our savior Jesus Christ was for nothing. Our good deeds should come as a result of our salvation, not as a way to earn God’s favor. So let the light of Jesus Christ shine brightly in your spirit so that a lost world may see and desire to come to believe in Him. In all things and circumstances, rejoice in the Lord. Remember the exhortations of the apostle Paul to the church at Philippi, Philippians 4 verses 4 through 7, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Through our salvation in Jesus Christ, we have gained the peace of God and in our daily lives, the many challenges and tribulations we all face in this world, believers have that eternal peace that surpasses all human understanding. This as much as anything else answers the question, Why Jesus?

I ask those of you that are believers in Christ to answer this question – honestly – have you shared your testimony with a non-believer in the last week, month or year? If not, why not? We are not spiritual sleeper cells waiting for that encrypted code word to activate our mission.  The time is now! The signs of our Lord’s return are all around us, simply read the news and it’s all right there playing out before our very eyes.  Jesus explained it this way to his disciples that before the end there would be a time known as “the beginning of sorrows.”  I believe we are now in that very time period.  Read it here in Matthew chapter 24, verses 6 through 8, And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” Believers are not to be troubled by these signs but should be filled with hope.  But we are not to sit on our hands and simply wait, we have been called to action.  The very last command given by our resurrected savior before he ascended to the right hand of God was to make disciples of all nations.  We have work to do and a very limited time to do it.  Be that light to a dark world, go about your activities with joy and hope, so abundant in your heart, that it shines for all to see.  God does not want any to be left behind.   

To believers, embrace the love of Jesus in your hearts, share this love with gentleness and respect, through actions and words, throughout your daily walk with God. Let those around you see the light of Christ within you, that peace that surpasses understanding so that they will want to know why you are different. Be prepared to share your testimony of faith so that non-believers will come to know that love which has been freely given as a ransom for many. Do not get caught up in angry discourse, debating the relevance of God, we do not have to reserve the last word for ourselves. God will work this out in his own time, we do not need to fight on his behalf.  Acts chapter 17, verse 25, Paul declares in reference to God, “And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything. Rather, He himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.”  While we share our beliefs, we do not compromise our values or water down the truth to make Jesus seem more compatible with the worldview, but at the same time, remember to be gentle and kind, mindful that your calling from Christ is to make disciples of all nations, win the lost to Jesus, that is our goal. Let this be your litmus test, when considering debate or protest in the name of God, pause and consider your actions, will they lead the lost to know Jesus as their savior, or will you sow the seeds of discontent and further drive them away? Trust in God so that you know He will defend himself according to His own plan. Shine the light of peace that you’ve been given through salvation and share this love at every opportunity. God will work out the rest.

In closing, if you are seeking answers, let us know by reaching out to this ministry with your questions and prayer requests. You can remain anonymous, but know that believers are here and waiting to hear from you so that we can share this incredible gift of salvation through Jesus Christ that we have come to know in our own lives. Why Jesus? We can answer that in a way that will change your life forever. Read our message “The Way, the Truth and the Life”  then reach out to us with any questions or prayer requests you may have.  May God bless you, we appreciate your visit to our site, please feel free to follow us, share our site with friends and family, and come back often.

 

 

John Stephen Frey, Director and Senior Editor, Life Beyond Horizons

J Stephen Frey

 

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The Prophecy Conundrum

The Prophecy Conundrum
By Jack Kinsella

In every generation of Christians since the time of the Apostles, there have been devout souls who have pored over the Scriptures, comparing the signs to the times and looking for evidence suggesting the imminent return of Christ.

In most previous generations, they were either revered as sages or dismissed as harmless nut-cases. But in this generation, something is different. Students and teachers of Bible prophecy find themselves in great demand or shunned like lepers.

Depending on how one receives the message, we are perceived as either hateful or hopeless, but we are certainly not harmless. In this generation, the first mental image most people have when they hear “Bible prophecy” is of a burning compound outside Waco.

It doesn’t matter that David Koresh was certifiably nuts or that he claimed to be Jesus Christ. To most people in this generation, “Bible prophecy” and “apocalyptic cult” are synonyms.

Since the 1960’s ‘evangelical’ and ‘apocalyptic’ and ‘conservative’ have all sort of run together into an image that then-candidate Obama summed up (rather well, really) in his “bitter redneck” comment.

“And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

When you get right down to it, there isn’t much about Bible prophecy that this generation should be eager to embrace. I feel for one of our younger members who lamented in one of our forums that we older folks at least knew what it felt like to have a future worth planning for.

I feel it for my own children. I came to Christ in my early 20’s. God called me almost immediately to be a watchman — my kids grew up never expecting to grow up.

My son Rick will be thirty-six in August. I can still hear him in my memory, his squeaky voice just beginning to crack, asking me if I thought the Lord would tarry long enough for him to learn to drive.

I’ve been expecting the Rapture to take place at any second now for almost my entire Christian life. Every new event seems to signal that ‘this is IT!” but then it isn’t. I get my hopes up, and then I realize that my reach has exceeded my grasp.

I am not alone — I am one of an entire generation of similarly disappointed Christians who keep listening for a trumpet that never sounds. This collective disappointment is reflected by a number of recent surveys that suggest Christianity in general, and evangelicalism in particular, are on the wane in the United States.

Michael Spencer, writing in the Christian Science Monitor, paints a rather grim picture of where he sees American evangelical Christianity headed, not just in the United States, but in the Western world.

Within two generations, evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its occupants. (Between 25 and 35 percent of Americans today are Evangelicals.) In the “Protestant” 20th century, Evangelicals flourished. But they will soon be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century.

This collapse will herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian West. Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good.

Millions of Evangelicals will quit. Thousands of ministries will end. Christian media will be reduced, if not eliminated. Many Christian schools will go into rapid decline. I’m convinced the grace and mission of God will reach to the ends of the earth. But the end of evangelicalism as we know it is close.

This is a perfect example of the “prophecy conundrum” — that’s pretty much the way the Bible predicted it, too.

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3)

Assessment

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. ” (2nd Timothy 4:3-4)

“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” (Matthew 24:12)

“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (2nd Peter 3:3-4)

Prophecy is knowledge of future events — and that has considerable weight. If you don’t believe knowledge has weight, think back to some time when you were in deep trouble when you were a kid and you were waiting for a punishment you KNEW was coming.

The end of the world is a fairly heavy subject.

The knowledge imparted to students of Bible prophecy in this generation is almost crushingly heavy — I believe that is the reason that the Lord promises a special crown to those who willingly shoulder its burden.

“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the Righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” (2nd Timothy 4:8)

Watching God work has another unexpected consequence. It tends to cause us to see ourselves in the reflected light of His glory –and it isn’t a pretty sight. Sometimes when that happens, it also manifests itself in one of our forums.

There was an entry by a brother just the other day lamenting his spiritual condition before the Lord. He begins by confessing he is ‘haunted’ by the fact he isn’t sure he is saved.

Let me address that brother first, before returning to the wider issue at hand since we all struggle with that issue at one time or another.

If you can follow me around this mental circle. . . If I DIDN’T wonder if I was saved from time to time, THAT would be a reason to worry. I KNOW how far short of the glory of God I come. I know me in my innermost, darkest places.

If I was God…well, let’s just say that it is a good thing for ME that I’m not.

So if I started to think that I was good enough to be saved, and that’s why I wasn’t wondering, then maybe I wouldn’t be.

Stay with me, here. This is one of those circular thoughts that, once you get it, slings you out the other side where the light is better.

If you are wondering how can it be that you are saved, as unworthy and unfit as you are to be saved, then by those very doubts you qualify as one of God’s redeemed.

“Amazing love! How can it be, That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?” When John Wesley penned the words to that hymn, he was haunted by his sin, too.

When God works all around you, when you watch Him change the course of nations, set up and tear down rulers according to His Word, when you actually witness Him manipulating events to conform to His prophetic outline, it tends to remind you of who you ought to be before Him.

There is another lesson taught by prophecy that is often overlooked — not who you ought to be, but who you actually are before the Lord.

He knew, down to the tiniest detail, what you would be thinking and doing as you committed the worst and most unforgivable thing you ever did in your entire life — and He saved you anyway.

You are the one that He loved so much that He paid the penalty for all your sins on Calvary so you and He could be friends for eternity.

You are the one He loved so much that He told you, in advance, what to look for in the last days, so you wouldn’t be scared.

“Let not your heart be troubled. Ye believe in God. Believe also in Me.”

There is a crown of righteousness laid up for you and me at the Bema Seat as a special reward for carrying the weight of what we know and being willing to share it while there is still time.

I believe that Michael Spencer is right. The end of evangelicalism is close — it’s no more than a trumpet note away. We can see it. We can feel it. The weight of this sin-sick world is too heavy for us to bear for much longer.

Which is why, praise the Lord, we won’t have to. He’s coming.

 

“The Way, the Truth and the Life”

the cross

Of all the messages on this site, I believe this is the most important for anyone seeking God and it represents the foundation of this ministry, to share Jesus Christ to all that seek the Truth.  First and foremost, for all believers in Jesus as their personal savior, it is our critical mission, to share the good news of salvation.  So let me begin by saying to you, the reader of this message, how pleased I am that you are here and if you have not yet experienced the true Love of Christ, I hope you will take a few moments to read on and discover the real meaning of salvation.

What does it mean to be saved? How is a person saved? What is salvation? These terms are very common in the church family, but to the outsider or anyone not familiar with God’s Word, they may be confusing.  Let me simplify this and present the Truth, the Love of our Heavenly Father, so much so that He gave us His only begotten Son as a sacrifice for everyone.

So, you might ask, why should I believe you and what makes you an authority on the message of salvation? Let me answer that question directly, I am a sinner, and daily I fall short of the glory of God. The bible tells us in Romans chapter 3 verse 23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Satan is real, he is not some Halloween character that we’ve made up, he introduced sin into this world and we carry that sinful nature in ourselves which puts us at odds with our own Creator.  Peter the disciple of Christ gave this dire warning in 1 Peter chapter 5 verses 8, “Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.”

However, we have eternal hope through the abundant love from our heavenly Father as stated in John chapter 3 verse 16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  Consider this fact, God’s love for us is so strong that while we were shackled in sin, he gave us the perfect plan for salvation through Jesus.  Look at what the bible says in Romans chapter 5 verse 8, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  

I share the salvation message with you today because I have experienced this very gift of salvation through the sacrifice made by Jesus on that old rugged cross.  Just as you may be searching for peace in a troubled world, I came to that place in my own life where I felt the calling of God, through the Holy Spirit, realizing that sin was separating me from God, but in hearing the scriptures I knew beyond any doubt that Jesus Christ came down to this earth, He walked among us, dealt with the same temptations, anguish, and challenges that we all face and above all else, He laid down his life for you and for me. John chapter 15 verse 13 is where Jesus says, Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus demonstrated a life of complete obedience to our Heavenly Father, to the point that he gave up his own life as a sacrifice for us. God raised him from the dead on the third day and Christ lives, having defeated sin and death so that we can be saved from our own sinful nature.

Don’t be fooled by those in this world that deny Jesus and continue their sinful ways.  The bible is very clear in Romans chapter 6 verse 23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Thankfully God gave us the solution to sin through Jesus Christ, who paid the debt of sin for us, by taking our sins upon his body and through obedience to God’s plan, Jesus died on that cross and shed his blood to cover our sins.  God raised him from the dead on the third day and Jesus now sits at the right hand of our heavenly Father.  All you have to do is believe, take that step of faith, ask Jesus into your heart and you will be saved.  Jesus tells us in Revelations chapter 3 verse 20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

So what is required of me to experience this gift of salvation? Surely I need to get my affairs in order and try to be a better person so that God will accept me. My life is not worthy, therefore I will need to clean things up first before I even think of coming to God. All of these thoughts probably pass through most people’s minds as they consider a move towards redemption, but the wonderful thing about God’s free gift of salvation, you do not have to do anything other than to believe in Jesus as the Son of God.  Romans Chapter 10 verses 9 and 10 clearly states, That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”  Jesus goes on to say in Matthew Chapter 10 verses 32 and 33,  So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”  In basic terms, it is clear from God’s Word if you believe in your heart that Jesus died on a cross for your sins and was raised from the dead on that third day, you will be saved. 

Pieta _ Soldani_terracotta 1715
(Pieta in terracotta by Soldani, 1715)   The artist depicts the crucified Christ, the angel to the left reflects sorrow and extends a hand in similar repose to the nail-scarred hand of Jesus.  The angel to the right offers a kiss and represents the hope of the resurrection to come.

In my youth, I felt that urging from the Holy Spirit, that knock at the door of my heart, and I realized that I was a sinner, lost in this world, yet one day I took that step of faith and answered His call.  Just as you the reader, if you have not yet made that profession of faith in Christ, you probably feel that same urging within you…maybe you don’t know what that is…but having gone before you to accept salvation, I can tell you beyond any doubt, that urging is the Holy Spirit of God speaking to your heart.  We are all spiritual beings that will live beyond this physical life, one day we will stand before our Creator, but if we have never accepted the free gift of salvation, we will be turned away.  Hear what Jesus said in Matthew chapter 7, verses 13 and 14, 

“Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.”

While the gift of salvation is free to all that seek it, the truth is that many will follow the broad path that leads to destruction.  Jesus tells us in these verses that the gate to eternal life with our heavenly Father is narrow and the road is difficult, few will find it.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can put this off or that surely if God is love then he will not turn me away.  God is love, but for anyone who denies Jesus and fails to confess their sins and make public their profession of faith in the resurrection, there will not be a second chance.  Right now, today, this could be your final opportunity to receive salvation through Jesus Christ.  Why put it off any longer, why risk your very soul? Jesus went on to say in verse 21, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,” and he further states in verse 23,  “Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!”

If you put it off, this most important decision of faith, you could very well fall into this category as Jesus described.  On that day before our Creator, you do not want to be the one that cries out “Lord, Lord” only to be told by Christ, “I never knew you.”  As we shared earlier in this message, if you accept Jesus as savior, He will acknowledge you before God, but if not, you will be turned away.

Maybe you have searched for many years not knowing exactly what you were looking for, trying to fill that void, but I will tell you right now there is only one way and that way is Jesus Christ.  Even the first disciples that had walked with Christ, witnessed first hand his miracles and teachings, struggled to understand the meaning of His purpose which was questioned by Thomas in John Chapter 14, to which Jesus replied in verse 6, Jesus saith unto him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” 

The only way to find salvation is to believe in your heart that Jesus died for your sins, confess with your mouth that God raised Him from the dead and you will be saved.  It is that simple.  You don’t earn it, you can’t work your way to salvation.  As Paul wrote in Galatians Chapter 2 verse 21“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”  You see, to think that we can earn salvation, be good enough or work hard enough is to say that Christ died for nothing.  If there were any other way, then why would God have required the life of His only Son be sacrificed on a cross.

If I make that profession of faith, what follows for me, the new believer, and what does that life look like as we move forward? Staying with Paul’s eloquent words to the Galatians, in verse 20 he explains it this way,  I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  This free gift of Salvation is the cornerstone of your new life in Christ, and by accepting Jesus as your savior, you will experience the unconditional Love of our Heavenly Father.  You become a new creation, having died to the old self, renewed to a life with Christ.  

Are you searching for the Truth? As with the beautiful gospel hymn Amazing Grace, I once was lost, but now am found.  I was searching and I found salvation, it has made all the difference in my life.  Not in the way the world might expect, my life has not been made easier, I am not immune to the same challenges and trials that we all face, but when you take that step of faith, knowing you are a sinner, asking Jesus to come into your heart, you receive not only the free gift of salvation and eternal life with God, but you also receive the Holy Spirit that will now dwell within you throughout your life.  The Holy Spirit will guide you and discern the Truth of the Word of God and your faith will grow and the Lord will guide you to the path that He has laid out for you.  You will never be alone again and as you join with other believers in fellowship, you will experience the abundant life that Jesus promised to those that believe.

Are you ready to take that step of faith? You can do so right now, right where you are.  Say this prayer right now to God,

“Dear heavenly Father, I have been searching to fill that void in my life and today I know that the only way to fulfillment is through Jesus Christ.  I believe that Jesus is the true Son of God, that He came to this earth, walked among us, and gave His life as a sacrifice for my sins.  Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected to life on the third day, He defeated sin and death, he paid for my sins so that I can have the gift of eternal life.  I confess that I am a sinner, but today I accept Jesus as my savior and I ask Him to come into my heart.  Thank you, Lord, for the gift of salvation.  Amen.”  

Thank you for reading this message. Did you just reach out to God and accept the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ? If so, please reach out to us and share your own good news through this link –  I have accepted Jesus Christ  We want to pray for you and celebrate your new life as a believer in Jesus Christ.  We hope to hear from you today, no strings attached, we don’t want your money, we want to help you get started on your new incredible journey with God.

For those that are still searching, maybe you don’t feel like you’re ready to make that decision, we hope to hear from you as well.  We want you to know and experience the Love of Christ, the same Love that we have experienced in our own lives.  It is the most important decision you will ever make.  Please do not let the opportunity of salvation pass you by.  Click this link and share your questions and thoughts – I want to know more about salvation

 John Stephen Frey, Director and Senior Editor, Life Beyond Horizons 

J Stephen Frey

 

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Bought at a Price

passion of the Christ 2

Life is measured in seasons of time as predictable as the sunrise and sunset of each passing day.   We busy ourselves with the tasks of daily life, working, raising a family, which often leaves little time for anything else.  It can become a drudgery, these gears of life grinding away, stealing our joy, leaving us to wonder what is it all about? We surround ourselves with things, distractions from our toils, always looking and planning for the next big thing, a vacation, a new car, sometimes anything to help us look beyond our current circumstances.  But why? There it is, that ever-present question, the one we bury deep inside – what does it all mean and what is my purpose in life?

With each passing month, we work our way through this tangled existence, hoping to meet the demands that press against us.  The rent or mortgage payment is due, car payments, credit card bills, this never-ending circle of requirements often become all-consuming.  Sometimes you just want to escape from it all but it never stops, time just keeps coming at us, relentlessly, and round and round we go.  There has to be more to life than all of this…

Believers wait and watch for the hour of our Lord’s return as the world around us crumbles under the weight of transgressions and denial of the Creator.  Pressures continue to mount against those that believe in the Word, having received salvation through Jesus.  It is hard to watch as the world, blind to the truth, spins more out of control each day, while evil grows and spreads like a plague.  While seekers clamor for answers and believers seek the Lord for strength to persevere, let’s step back to the beginning and follow the path of God’s perfect plan that leads to the one true answer, the way, the truth and the life.

John Chapter 1 verse 1, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  Verse 14 further states, The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 

In the previous reference, John speaks of the beginning, which is also detailed for us here in Genesis chapter 1 verse 1, In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  When we put that together with the words from John chapter 1, we know that Jesus was there at the beginning of creation.  The Word was with God, the Word became flesh.  Jesus came to this earth, walked among us, shared in the trials and tribulations we all face, then in perfect obedience to God the Father, Jesus died on a cross for our sins.  But let’s look even deeper, to gain a full understanding of why Jesus came to this earth as an atonement for sin.

The Bible tells us that God created day and night, He separated the land from the seas, He created all manner of creature, both in the seas and on land.  But something was missing, creation was not complete until God created man.  However, we also know that God created all angelic hosts, which included the most beautiful of the angels, the one called Lucifer, as referenced in Isaiah Chapter 14 verse 12,

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 

In Ezekiel Chapter 28, in verses 12 through 16, Lucifer is described in this way,

You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God.  Every kind of precious stone covered you:
carnelian, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and emerald. Your mountings and settings were crafted in gold; they were prepared on the day you were created.  You were an anointed guardian cherub, for I had appointed you.  You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked among the fiery stones.  From the day you were created you were blameless in your ways until wickedness was found in you.  Through the abundance of your trade, you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I expelled you in disgrace from the mountain of God, and banished you, guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones.

From this, we know that God’s perfect creation, including man, was set on a collision course of good against evil, as Lucifer was cast out of heaven, along with the legion of angels that followed.  Satan, as he became known, so despised God that he made it his mission to seek and devour all of mankind, like a hungry lion prowling about as described in 1 Peter chapter 5 verse 8, 

Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.

Why did Satan fall? It can be summed up in one word, pride.  It is revealed in Ezekiel chapter 28 verse 17,

Your heart became proud because of your beauty; For the sake of your splendor
you corrupted your wisdom. So I threw you down to the ground.

It was through the sin of pride that Satan fell from grace and turned on mankind as we read when he encountered Eve in the garden.  In Genesis chapter 3, Satan used the serpent to tempt Eve by contradicting God.  The instructions had been made clear, of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God forbid them to eat.  Satan tickled the ears of Eve by deceiving her into thinking that if she ate of this tree, she would become as God with all knowledge and wisdom.  Adam and Eve both ate the fruit of the tree and became aware that they were naked and they hid from the Lord.  When God came into the garden in the evening he called out to Adam, “where are you?” God knew where Adam was but in calling out to him, he was indicating that they had become separated by sin.  Adam was asked what he had done and he blamed Eve and in a sense blamed God as he explained the fruit was given to him by the woman that God had created.  At this point, the perfect creation of God was corrupted, sin had entered into man and this sinful nature would be passed through every generation.  Adam did not repent of his sin in disobeying God’s command regarding the tree of knowledge, instead, he made excuses, blamed others and in so doing, all mankind suffers the consequences of that day.

So why did God create us if we were doomed to failure and sin? Was God lonely, was he taken by surprise that Man sinned against him? Satan would love for us to believe that he was able to sneak into the garden of Eden and ruin creation without God having any knowledge, but that is not the case.  Man was created by God and given a free will, but it is a mistake to think that man has autonomy over God’s plans, that sin was introduced by happenstance and God needed a new plan to rectify the situation.  God knows the future events as demonstrated throughout the Bible, both in prophesy and by the very words of Christ as he foretold his own destiny.  Furthermore, we know that God not only possesses foreknowledge of events, he plans those events and puts them into action.

Isaiah chapter 46 verses 9 through 11 

Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying,  “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.”

We see it throughout God’s word time and again as the prophets were given knowledge of things to come according to God’s plans and purposes.  It even carried forward through Jesus as He walked on earth.  Jesus foretold the disciples of the coming crucifixion and resurrection.  Jesus told the disciples at the last supper of the betrayal of Judas and of Peter’s coming denial.  Therefore it is without any doubt that we can know there is nothing that surprises God.  Not only does he know the future, he plans for it and carries out his purposes according to His will. So we wonder why did God create mankind, was He lonely? I think it is best answered by C.S. Lewis,

“God did not make us because He was bored, lonely, or had run out of things to do. He created us to be the objects of His love! Sometimes our actions make us unlovely, but we are never unloved. And because God loves us—we have value. And nobody can take that value away. God’s love revealed at Calvary fastens itself onto flawed creatures like us, and for reasons none of us can ever quite figure out, makes us precious and valued beyond calculation. This is love beyond reason. And this is the love with which God loves us.”

When we try to fathom this abundant love, we grapple in our attempts to reason it out and often times this leads to frustration as we struggle to comprehend God’s true purposes for our lives.  The Apostle Paul writes in Romans chapter 8 verses 37 through 39,

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In our own limited ability to reason this out, we look for balance, a way to justify the means to an end.  However, we always come up short in trying to determine a way that we are good enough to justify the love that God shows to us.  Some will simply give up and say this is ridiculous, God would not create man simply to make us the objects of His love, but consider this undeniable extension of that love in Romans chapter 5 verse 8,

“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

This brings us to the amazing grace extended to all mankind from our Creator.  Satan introduced sin and all evil into this world and he continues his all-out assault without ceasing.  If Satan hates God, then why does he attack us? Genesis chapter 1 verse 27,

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Because of God’s unending love for us, we have value in His sight, and this value causes Satan to seethe with rage against us.  We are created in the very image of God.  We are caught in a spiritual battle, a tug of war for our very souls, yet in all of this, God also created the perfect plan of salvation.  We are not hopelessly lost, for we have a way out, not because of anything we do, but because that very love that brought about our own creation is why Jesus died in our places as a living sacrifice to cover all of our transgressions.  God values each and every one of us, so much so, that he provided a path for our redemption so that we may move on from this brief time on earth, to an eternity with Him.

John chapter 3 verse 16 says,

For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

The Bible further explains this pathway to salvation in Romans Chapter 10, verses 9 and 10;

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 

Jesus and Mary 2

Paul the Apostle of Christ reminds us in 1 Corinthians chapter 6 verses 19 and 20,

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

We give ourselves over to God completely when we accept salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus.  We are no longer our own, we belong to God.  Jesus took our rightful consequences upon himself, and tho he was without sin, he paid the debt that we could not pay.  Jesus laid bare his back and took the scourging of a Roman soldiers whip.  Jesus then carried our cross through the streets along the Via Dolorosa or the way of suffering, where he was then nailed to that cross at Golgotha where he died a slow and agonizing death for our sins.  That is the price of our salvation, the cost paid by Jesus so that we may find redemption and avoid the wages of our own iniquities, which is death and eternal separation from our Creator.

Unfortunately today, a new religion has sprung to life, enjoying great success as they share a message of love of self, how to be happy, how to enjoy life in this world with catchy phrases of sunshine and good times with very little mention of God, or the price of sin and the payment that Christ made on our behalf.  This watered-down form of religion allows people to hold onto a form of godliness without the baggage of all that talk of sin, after all, they will tell you, “who are we to judge others?”  Paul spoke of this coming age and warned against it in 2 Timothy chapter 3, saying that people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful and proud, holding to a form of godliness but denying its power. We are warned to avoid such people.  It’s a religion of rainbows and unicorns and while it may seem harmless, Paul warned of this, to turn away from such teaching.  Don’t be confused, we are not given the authority to judge, God has given that over to Christ, and make no mistake, one day we will all stand before him and be held accountable for our lives.  But sharing and teaching the truth of the word of God is not judgment, it’s compassion for those that have not found salvation, we share the truth in hopes that others will come to a place of repentance and experience the gift of salvation.  The most basic of all truths that apply to everyone is found in Romans chapter 3 verse 23,

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

The good news continues in the same chapter as we read in verses 24 through 26,

And are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.  It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

This is why we share our faith, as we are instructed by Christ, so that the world may come to know the true grace of God.  This is not about holding sin over someone’s head or elevating our own status at the cost of others, that’s another lie perpetuated by Satan to keep the lost from hearing the truth.  We are all sinners and all of us, including the writer of this work, deserves to die and be separated from God forever.  Thankfully, we have come to know Jesus and in Him, we have placed our faith and trust, this is what we share, this wonderful gift of eternal life which includes a life more abundant on this earth.  As C. S. Lewis once wrote, “if you aim for heaven, you will get the earth as well, but if you aim for the earth, you will receive neither.”

How terrible for anyone to have to stand before Jesus on that day and hear him speak the words from Matthew chapter 7 verse 23,

And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Satan is real, the spiritual battle is on-going, the crucifixion of Christ was a bloody, humiliating and violent death…Jesus paid the price for our sins…we are bought at a price.  Our hope comes through the resurrection when on the third day, God raised Jesus from the dead and he now sits at the right hand of our heavenly Father.

But let’s not fall into another trap, seeking the kingdom without understanding what it is and our responsibility in leading the lost towards the light.  When Jesus entered Jerusalem for the final time, he was lauded as a King and cheered as a conquering hero.  The people expected to see the long-awaited kingdom of God to be revealed right before their very eyes.  They were anticipating an overthrow of the system that they had come to despise.  It had less to do with their passion for the Messiah as much as their own selfish desires to see their occupiers turned away in defeat.  When this did not occur, they turned against their Messiah and joined together in rage as they called for his death.

Where is the kingdom? The people had no desire to share in the faith of Christ, to be changed in their hearts, to turn away from their sins, to love their fellow man, they wanted justice and revenge.  In many ways we see this misguided effort in our own churches, we want our institutions of government to conform to our ways, we want justice, we stand on the steps of the supreme court and shout for right and push away those that need to hear the message of salvation the most.  We say we want revival but our actions say we want political change and justice even more.  Revival will not come through political activism nor from the voting booth.  We can’t demand institutional change and expect that the hearts of non-believers will be changed from the outside in…change and revival will only come from the inside out.  We should be expending our most fervent energies on reaching the hearts of those that do not know the good news of Jesus Christ.  We have a calling as believers as laid out for us in Matthew chapter 28, the great commission, to share the love of Christ with everyone so that they might come to a place of repentance.  Paul the Apostle extolled the virtues of patience and gentleness when he spoke in 2 Timothy chapter 2, verses 24 and 25,

The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth. 

Yet we demand political change and justice, we call for institutional control, although we forget that true justice would be death for our own sins and eternal separation from God.  We don’t deserve salvation, we deserve to pay the wages of our sins.  Who are we to stand and demand justice? But that doesn’t stop us, we jeer at non-believers, shouting them down as if they truly deserve the punishment of God.  How easily we can forget, we are all sinners and not a single one of us deserves the love of God.  Romans chapter 6 verse 23 says,

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We have traveled a long way, from creation through redemption, asking the questions of purpose in life and living in God’s amazing grace, so let’s take hold of this great redemptive story and share the passion of our Christ, our savior and Lord.  Our purpose is to strive to be like Jesus, to accept God’s unconditional love and to share that love with one another.  Paul the Apostle so eloquently taught that we should turn away from impurity and ignorance in Ephesians chapter 4, verses 20 through 24, 

But that is not how you came to know Christ, assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus, to take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.

Finally, Paul continued these teachings of patience and kindness in verses 29 through 32,

No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by him for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.

We have found the kingdom of God, it resides within the hearts of believers, by the grace of our heavenly Father.  So let’s seek revival by starting in our own heart, praying on our knees that God will search our hearts and minds and show us His will as we journey through this life in preparation for the next.  We know that God’s principles and moral foundations work, but let’s not become distracted in our pursuit of change, expecting a lost world to adapt to our ways.  To bring about change, to turn the world back towards God, we should focus on the hearts of man, not the institutions of man’s creation.  We have made it abundantly clear to the world the things that are offensive to God, but in this time of greatest need for redemption, I challenge all believers to get on their knees as servants, called by Jesus Christ, and go forth with patience and kindness and share the true and unconditional love that we have come to know through our salvation.  Share the gospel anywhere and everywhere.  We are all one through Jesus Christ.

We here at Life Beyond Horizons thank you for reading and we pray that God will truly bless you and keep you.  If you have needs today and would like for us to pray for you, please share your requests with us through this link Prayer requests.  If you have questions about salvation or want to know more about Jesus Christ, please contact us through this link I want to know more about Salvation.

 

John Stephen Frey is the author of this message and serves as our director emeritus and member of the prayer team

 

 

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Time is short

anger

Anger, bitterness, hatred, it seems to be everywhere, surrounding our culture and permeating every aspect of our lives.  It seems that our safe havens are not immune, sports and other forms of entertainment no longer offer the escape we so desperately crave.  Journalism, once a bastion of integrity and impartiality, seems to have embraced its own agenda and no longer reports the news of the day but preaches the ideology of its brand, tilted towards the right or the left without apologies to anyone. Late night comedy, long a source of parody towards the events of the time, has now drawn a line to which the viewer must stand and celebrate or become another part of the punchline.  We are being overcome by the dark evil spirit of hatred and anger…bitterness is the tone of the day.  Parody is now a  cheap mockery, debate no longer exists, you either agree or become the target of the oppressive voice that controls media, entertainment, and the news.  Justice is not balanced, up is down, right is wrong, do not question the worldly agenda or you will pay a heavy toll.

2 Timothy chapter 3, verses 1 – 5 gives us this warning,

But know this: Hard times will come in the last days.  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, demeaning, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people.”

Never in my lifetime has there been a time where this has been more applicable than today.  Read it again and take a moment, dwell on the words and note how many of these descriptors are evident to you.  Not just in the world but unfortunately inside the church, we see it creeping in and destroying the very truth of God’s word.  “People will be lovers of self, lovers of money…”, this describes the numerous false doctrines that are thriving today in churches all over the land.  The danger of the prosperity message is the application in our lives, the destructive turn down the path that leads to the love of money and love of self.  There is a reason these warnings are listed at the very beginning, they carry the greatest weight of destruction.  Matthew chapter 6 verse 24 states the following, “No one can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”  Jesus did not come to share a doctrine of contradictions which is why we warn often of the deceit found in the prosperity message, you simply can not pursue riches on this earth and avoid the idolatry and divisive nature that comes with it. I encourage you to read “The False Doctrine of Prosperity Faith” to find out more regarding this topic.

We live in the time described by Jesus when he replied to his disciples as they asked for signs of the end times.  Matthew chapter 24 verses 3 through 8 states,  While he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately and said, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what is the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus replied to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you.  For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will deceive many.  You are going to hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, because these things must take place, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  All these events are the beginning of labor pains.  These events are all around us, political unrest, wars and rumors of wars, North Korea and Iran both in relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons, earthquakes and tremors are reported almost daily, all at a volume we have not seen in our times.  

So what are we to do? Is all hope truly lost? To the contrary, as believers, we have hope and peace in these confirmations of our faith.  These words are beyond prophetic, they are now a living example of the world we see today.  For non-believers, or to those that proclaim a belief in a higher being but have yet to accept Jesus as the true Messiah, this is your warning.  These words are meant for you, do not turn away and deny the truth, it is here for you to read and it is playing out for you to see with your own eyes in our world today.  Do not wait or bury your head in the sand in hopes it will all somehow go away.  Jesus did not tell the disciples that once these things started there would be any turning back.  No coming election will solve these issues, this path goes above and beyond the world as we know it.  The battle of good versus evil is now playing out in real time and we must take our stand, you must choose a side, and believe me, ignoring this reality or choosing to live in denial is the same as denying the very existence of God and our savior Jesus Christ.  In Matthew chapter 10 verses 32 to 33 Jesus makes it very clear, Therefore, everyone who will acknowledge me before others, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.  But whoever denies me before others, I will also deny him before my Father in heaven.”   Do not make that mistake for it will cost you everything.  

Time is short and there soon will come a moment when you will no longer be given the opportunity to seek the free gift of salvation that comes through Jesus Christ.  Don’t wait until it’s too late, consider making that step of faith today, right now, by asking Jesus to forgive you of your sins and welcoming Him into your heart.  Go to this link,  “Pathway to Salvation”,  and follow the easy steps to salvation that are explained in simple detail, then pray the prayer of faith and salvation is yours.  Reach out to us and share your decision, let us pray for you, there are no strings attached and we are not seeking your money, we hope that everyone will have the chance to see the truth and find redemption through our savior, Jesus Christ.  He gave his life for you and for me.  May God bless you and if you’ve made a decision today or if you’re thinking about doing so, please follow up by visiting our link, “Helpful Resources”, where you will find an online bible and many helpful ministries that provide every resource you will need to answer your questions and grow in your new faith in Christ.

 

John Stephen Frey, Director and Senior Editor, Life Beyond Horizons

J Stephen Frey

 

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What are you afraid of?

As we grow older doesn’t it seem as if time passes faster and faster? Days turn into weeks, then months, and before we know it, another year has come and gone. What do we have to show for it, other than the realization of being another year older? All those plans we made in our youth somehow seem to slip away as we find ourselves established in a work a day lifestyle, paying the bills, running from one function to another, pushed to the brink by deadlines and unexpected challenges that come at us from all directions. At times it can be overwhelming and we need that place to escape. We find our refuge in sports, movies, television…maybe we get a vacation now and then, but Monday always takes us back to the reality of life.  What does it all mean, what is our purpose in all of this?

For believers, we have our purpose, our commission, as given by our savior Jesus in Matthew chapter 28, verses 18 through 20, 

Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.  Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

For those that have not come to know Jesus as their personal savior, the world becomes a road to nowhere. Without God, there is no purpose or meaning, the grave represents the final destination.  I appeal to anyone reading this message if you have not experienced the true love of our heavenly Father, the one who loves us so much that while we were yet sinners, He sent his only begotten Son, Jesus, to live among us and become a sacrifice for all sin so that we can have eternal life, that you would come to know Him.  If you’ve never made that decision, please visit the following link to find out what it means to be saved and how you can take that life-changing step of faith – Pathway to Salvation 

Again, speaking to the believer, have you found your purpose in life? Beyond paying the bills and building your career, what are you doing for the kingdom of God? Have you answered the call or have you become so engrossed in the daily grind that you, like so many other believers, have pushed God into a small corner, a place you visit once a week at best, then it’s back to the world.  What are you waiting for…what are you afraid of? Are you a living testimony to the love of Jesus Christ that resides within you? Have you shared that love with those around you? What are you afraid of?

Lukewarm as defined by Merriam-Webster is to be moderately warm, tepid, such as a lukewarm bath or lukewarm coffee, also lacking conviction, halfhearted, cold, without conviction.  We live in a world of moderately warm Christians, going through the motions, lacking in purpose and conviction. This isn’t how it is meant to be and certainly not what we have been called to do.  

So what are you afraid of, what is holding you back? Why have you settled, you know there is more in life, where is that life more abundant that Jesus promised? The answer may lie with you….why haven’t you answered the call of our heavenly Father and taken up the course which He has laid out for you? For most people the answer is simple – it is hard to walk that line, being a Christian is not easy.  Follow the lives of those first disciples, only John lived out his years and even at that he was exiled to a solitary existence on an island after having survived his intended execution. Watch this short video, listen to the message, then ask yourself this question – am I living the life that my heavenly Father has called me to undertake? What am I doing to add to the kingdom of God? Step up to the challenge, get out of the pew, start living the life God has for you – be the strong disciple that Jesus called you to be – starting now!

Won’t you step up and join us in serving our most loving heavenly Father….reach out to us, leave a message, request prayer, read our message Can I get a Witness?  then seek God in prayer.  You can make a difference in your community, become a Trader, read our message Trader or Traitor?  and join us in the mission field. We encourage you to follow our site and tell your friends, neighbors, co-workers, strangers – use our resources as a place to steer the lost to come to know Jesus Christ. Many of us have that person in our lives that need the good news of salvation, but it never seems to be the right time or place. Maybe it just seems awkward or you’re really not sure what to say.  Try this approach, break the ice by telling them about this website you’ve discovered, how you think they might find it interesting, a site that doesn’t ask for money and allows it’s users to remain anonymous.  That’s why we started this site and it has helped us bring many to the message of salvation – your friend, co-worker, or that stranger that God brings across your path might be changed forever.  Step up and may God truly bless you in your journey.

 

 

John Stephen Frey, Director and Senior Editor, Life Beyond Horizons

J Stephen Frey

*video is provided by our partners at Right Now media

 

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