Why am I confused about this?
He that believes on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him.
John 3:36 KJV
I am struck by something as I read passages like this: I think about how clear this sounds; “He that believes on the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him.”
Wrath removed – everlasting life given.
Is this concept difficult to understand or do we just make it difficult? If I can make a strong statement about Revelation and end times events stating, “I am not confused” then why am I confused about this?
I grew up in church, and most of my concepts of God were presented to me by the church, and mom. As I have chosen to read for myself I found that much of what I learned was wrapped in misconception.
God is bigger and better than what they taught me.
Yes, I struggled with understanding Revelation just like everyone else, but something happened that changed all that. Perhaps my relentless desire to understand is a huge aspect of my understanding. Gaining knowledge about Islam is another part. Putting both facets together, and applying some logical reasoning, while leaning heavily upon the Holy Spirit, I feel I have a clear confidence about where things are going.
An example of this happened in Monday morning bible study. The leader responded to someone’s question about 2 Thessalonians 2.
2 Thessalonians 2:3 KJV (3) 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;
The leader said, “we cannot say with any accuracy when this will happened because we do not know who the man of sin is, and he has not been revealed.” The oohs and aahs rose from some. Seconds passed and I said, “I believe we do, what if I can tell you who he is?” Based upon what I understand about Islam, He is the Mahdi, the twelfth Imam, and he comes in the midst of carnage and confusion. President Ahmadinejad of Iran has stood before the UN on three occasions and after declaring that he feels that he has been called to bring about this carnage, has called forth the Mahdi.
The men of the group just sat there staring at me. I am not confused about this. A bold move on my part; aggressive yes. A statement made in faith, absolutely.
Here is what I struggle with.
How do I know that I have done enough, have enough oil, or that Jesus is really coming for us at all? Paul made a statement to the effect that if we have no hope in being caught up then what we do and how we live our lives makes us most foolish. But there is hope, and that is what I going to pursue.
The saddest aspect of this is, I am sure I am not the only one that thinks like this.
I know from scripture that it takes faith to please God, perhaps this is one of those areas, but it would be foolish, I think, to merely have faith and continue living in any way that you please.
Alright, so I am applying faith to passages like my originating scripture, and others.
John 3:36 KJV He that believes on the Son hath everlasting life.
[Believe is the Greek word pisteno meaning: to be persuaded; to place confidence in; an absolute dependence upon; a reliance in the Word of God.]
What if you trying to establish yourself in faith, or perhaps regain some confidence?
- 1 Thessalonians 5:9 KJV (9) For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
The dictionary definition of appointed is: decreed; ordained; established. Just based upon 1 Thessalonians 5:9, though wrath is coming, it is not meant for those who are in Him; the Son already took the wrath for us. God will not punish the Son again, and because we are hidden in him, he will not punish us with this wrath that is coming.
- 1 Thessalonians 4:13 KJV (13) But I would not have you tobe ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
What a concept; the lack of ignorance. That to imply that there is some form of it, and it is the ignorance that creates the hole for confusion and doubt to crawl through. Webster’s dictionary has an initial definition of ignorance as: Want, absence or destitution of knowledge. You really need to assess whether I am lacking information, or merely choosing to accept the information given.
Paul wrote this in response to their fears and a lack of confidence that had crept in on one of the church bodies that he had established. Clearly, I am not the only one. Paul, in my mind, seemed greatly disturbed that their confidence had been shaken from its foundation. Paul had delivered this message of hope, for it is the basis and backbone of who we are.
- 1 Thessalonians 4:14 KJV (14) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
“if we believe..” And I do, “that Jesus died and rose again,” This very concept is the underlying theme throughout most of the New Testament. He is alive, and because he is alive his word is valid and true. He is coming back just as he said. At the time of this writing I am still breathing therefore physically alive, but there was a time that I was spiritually dead. Accepting him made me alive in Christ, as I became flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone (look it up). Here is the key: “in Jesus will God bring (those) with him.
1 Thessalonians 4:15 KJV (15) For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
Two things jump out at me as I read this passage in 1Thessalonians 4:15.
First: Paul is not making this up, this is directive given based in and upon the Word of the Lord. What does that mean? It means that scripture backs this up. Think about it! Paul preached grace and life out of the head knowledge he had in the Torah, and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We also know that Jesus himself spoke with Paul in the vision on the road to Damascus.
Secondly: Paul, and everyone he spoke to understood that they could and should live with a sense of excitement, as they anxiously awaited the return of Lord. Everyone wanted out of here, especially if there is the hope of a better life. Again, think about it. There is not a religion out there that does not have a hope of a better life, and even those that think that you live and then evaporate, at least anchor on an end of grief.
Suppose your life is one of party until you drop; at some point you do drop. If you happen to drop and it does not kill you, but leaves you paralyzed from the neck down; lying in the hospital bed, stewing in your personal hatred and fears, you are attended by Christian nurses who speak loving words of life to you. Pastors visit you, praying over you, all the while your head refuses all help because your thoughts are blinded by your hatred. You lie there unable to scream and curse them, so tears well up in yours eyes, and instead of recognizing your deep disgust and hatred, they think you have a recognition of the love that Jesus paid for you. Eventually you die and instead of vaporizing, as you had hoped, you find your soul is eternal and you get to spend eternity with your adopted father, Satan, burning in torment with him. – Get it, no hope.
- 1 Thessalonians 4:17 KJV (17) Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
To be caught up – Greek, harpazo means to be grasped hastily, snatched, or seized. Consider that both Jesus and Peter spoke concerning this persuasion as they both gave us the example of Noah. Peter took it one step further by adding in Lot.
Grasping someone suddenly can have so many implications, such as playing a bad joke, but the one that might bring concern would be the example of getting pulled to safety when your demise is imminent. God is not a thrill seeker, he does everything on time, but it is His time. There is clearly the idea of rescue from a potentially life threatening situation, on a grand scale.
I have not refused, nor rejected Jesus Christ the Son, therefore I have everlasting life.
So, what is at question here?
Asking myself this question I can only bring one thing to mind, Matthew 25 and the 10 virgins.
Matthew 25:1-12 AMP THEN THE kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. (2) Five of them were foolish (thoughtless, without forethought) and five were wise (sensible, intelligent, and prudent). (3) For when the foolish took their lamps, they did not take any [extra] oil with them; (4) But the wise took flasks of oil along with them [also] with their lamps. (5) While the bridegroom lingered and was slow in coming, they all began nodding their heads, and they fell asleep. (6) But at midnight there was a shout, Behold, the bridegroom! Go out to meet him! (7) Then all those virgins got up and put their own lamps in order. (8) And the foolish said to the wise, Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out. (9) But the wise replied, There will not be enough for us and for you; go instead to the dealers and buy for yourselves. (10) But while they were going away to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were prepared went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. (11) Later the other virgins also came and said, Lord, Lord, open [the door] to us! (12) But He replied, I solemnly declare to you, I do not know you [I am not acquainted with you].
Of the 5 that did not make it in, did they think that they believed? The parable tells us that they were lethargic and slept, apparently during the period that they could have made preparations.
Does lethargy and sleeping imply non-belief? I am not sure about the answer to this.
They all got the invitation, or was it just understood? If someone, perhaps the family, sends out invitations, why would the Lord not know them?
Having had a wedding of my own, there were certainly people I did not know. How would I make a determination that someone coming to my wedding should not be allowed in? I would have nothing to base that upon, unless I had some insight into the character and nature of this person I do not recognize.
That morning at “Bible study” I got 15 seconds to speak about this.
I said, “the oil of Matthew 25 could not be the Holy Spirit, as Jesus is talking to a Jewish audience, but the time frame would make his comments directed at the modern church (the Laodicean church) because it affects us.” While the oil may well be drive and desire, the invitation aspect is God’s word.
Suddenly I see something here. .
- I believed in him, this one that first loved me. That implies knowledge of him and a recognition of what he has done for me. Time spent with him increases that knowledge, and relationship builds intimacy.
- He chose me. Ephesians 1:4 ASV even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world. – I cannot begin to define for you how that makes me feel. No one has ever chosen me, and then stayed with me, no matter what, but God has. He, with no effort at all, made a determination that included me, throughout all eternity. I cannot take this in.
- A Life with Him is part of our promise. 1 Timothy 4:8 ASV “… but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life which now is, and of that which is to come.” A promise that started with Abraham , and made toward his future seed, of which I am now one. How would you know that there is this hope unless someone tell you. As I think about the soul winning techniques I have heard, all are based in the concept of fire insurance; in other words, escaping hell. Try and answer me truthfully. Would you have come to Him if I told you I can give you an assurance of a life of peace with Him?
Unprepared or un-equipped they had no oil, or at least not enough. I am not convinced Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit for he was talking to a Jewish audience, and the Holy Spirit had not fallen upon everyone yet, but the reference to the destination implies the modern-day church (The Laodicean Church).
One of my brothers feels the oil is worship. I like this idea so let’s mull this over. Worship, according to Webster’s dictionary means excellence of character, dignity, worth, worthiness; the act of paying divine honors to the Supreme Being. Worship entails all that give that honor unto the one who is worthy. He alone, is God. Calling upon his name would be an act of worth-ship.
What if the oil is desire; drive for knowledge of him; or the ceaseless seeking of his face, because you want to know Him better.
What if I see nothing that should cause me concerns that I might be one of the 50% that were unprepared?
Then I should have a strong confidence that Jesus is coming back for me, and yet I have concerns and I struggle with the idea of being left behind. On the positive side, scripture seems to be definitive about how Jesus and the Father feel toward those that are his.
Jesus tells us in John 6.
John 6:37-39 ASV All that which the Father giveth me shall come unto me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. (38) For I am come down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. (39) And this is the will of him that sent me, that of all that which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.
Would it be possible, at all, for the creator of the universe to fail? The short answer is NO!
When you think about the fact that God claimed you for his very own, before the world was made, displays a conspicuous resolution in restoring a broken family back to himself.
John 6:40 ASV For this is the will of my Father, that every one that beholds the Son, and believes on him, should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
We have all heard the whining, and contradictions, how do you know God’s will? I suppose you will never know without knowing his character, but again, the short answer is His word. John 6:40 is merely one example. His will is that all who behold and believe should have eternal life, and be raised up at the last day.
Let’s ponder this a moment. The word behold here was translated as see in the KJV. The Greek word is theoreo and carries the meaning:
A spectator of – That is not necessarily a good translation, for I can be a spectator with only a morbid interest. Some people love to chase ambulances, just to see the ugly results. Can they help? No, and more than likely just get in the way.
To discern – Now this makes more sense, because it implies thought and focus. Literally to experience or intensively acknowledge. What are you acknowledging? All that he is, the relationship.
Figuratively to experience – Now we have taken this way beyond merely looking at something with morbid intent. This is an intense knowledge.
Tobelieve – Greek pisteuō ; is to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing).
So it is the will of the Father, that everyone that experiences or intensively acknowledges this relationship with Jesus, and has faith, in respect to the hope, should have eternal life.
Wait a minute, should implies the right or necessity, but not necessarily ownership. Even if I use the KJV there is still a shadow, in that the translators used the phrase “may have” everlasting life.
The Greek word for should, or may have, is echo, and means to have or to hold. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, as well as Vine’s New Testament Words, defines the phrase as: To have, as in to own or possess.
There is no uncertainty in this. We have hope; we have the will of the Father; we have the promise of God; those of us that have received the Son, have this life and promise.
As I compared versions this caught my attention. John 6:40 CEV My Father wants everyone who sees the Son to have faith in him and to have eternal life. Then I will raise them to life on the last day.
Somehow this seems to say it all, and correctly.
The last piece of confusion here is this: “Then I will raise them to life on the last day.”
Martha speaking to Jesus about Lazarus said, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” John 11:24 KJV
She spoke of resurrection of the dead that happens at the end of the thousand-year reign, when all who remain will be judged. Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible agrees with me. As pertaining to Martha’s understanding of “the last day” John Gill wrote in his exposition of the entire Bible:
“The Jews were divided about the doctrine of the resurrection, the Sadducees denied it, the Pharisees asserted it; and on this latter side was Martha; she believed there would be a resurrection of the dead; that this would be at the last day, or at the end of the world; and that her brother would rise at that general resurrection: wherefore, if Christ meant no more than that, this was what she always believed. The Syriac version renders it, “in the consolation at the last day”; and so the time of the resurrection is, by the Jews, called “the days of consolation”. “
God committed to remove us from the coming wrath.
Titus 1:1-2 KJV ….the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; (2) In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
Dake’s notes point out that the phrase “last day” is used 6 times. 5 times of the day of redemption and once of the last day of judgment.
The word promised used in Titus 1:2 is the Greek word: epaggellō and means: to announce upon (reflexively), that is, (by implication)to engage to do something,
Thayer’s definition of the same word: is to announce that one is about to do or furnish something.
2 Timothy 1:8-9 KJV ….. the gospel according to the power of God; (9) Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
I do not see any confusion here, but straight forward talk, about God’s commitment to pulling us up to heaven, with Him, prior to the time of wrath. (As a side note. I have opted to stop calling the last seven years the tribulation. Clearly it will be a time of great tribulation, but what it is, is a time of great wrath. Tribulation has been with us since time began, and we are destined for it.
Hebrews 2:3 KJV How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;
Perhaps this is one of those passages that cloud my waters. To neglect is to put off or ignore. Is this ignorance before or after the point of salvation. Keeping in mind that salvation or at least redemption came at the cross, the demarcation line is our acceptance.
In talking about this I see the face of a young man I will refer to as my son-in-law. He displayed all the emotions; performed all the rituals (tongue in cheek), and yet the fruit he produces is infidelity, worldliness, and greed.
So my choice to not develop or pursue this “new” relationship is what?
A choice, completely of my own?
Consider some of our techniques in reaching out to people with the gospel. Ray Comfort stands at the beach with a camera man and a microphone, pressuring people to admit and see their in-ward brokenness. Perhaps they accept Christ and he moves on to the next victim.
What did this new convert learn?
That they are, or at least were a broken liar that now has Christ, little more. Perhaps then the problem is in how we have taught the masses.
The son-in-law had the influence of the Catholic church, and then a few minutes of a pastor whose favorite counseling technique was to say, “just stop it!” Try that on an addict, and let me know how it works for them.
Are we teaching new believers or any believer to walk out this conversion process with at least the knowledge that there is a hope and solid foundation for that hope. Are we teaching the foundations of faith that build this confidence, or are we blazing away at the congregation about sin and their brokenness, because our pastors do not have the faith that God is capable of keeping us in His grasp.
There is more to this thesis, and it shall be explored. The intent is to prove a rightful confidence in the hope and promises of God, about our being gathered to him, and our right to a relationship built on confidence.