Market, Money, Time and Faith Porn Fiction

I am in the process of writing a very fun sci-fi suspense trilogy. I call it Pogland. Fun and challenging and time-consuming (which is why I’ve been off of social media). 

If you know me, you know I have some strong views on the role theology needs to play in fiction. I came across a Christian sci-fi/fantasy: “How to write and be published” video this morning which at first I was thrilled about, but soon found to be very disturbing.

I was flabbergasted! What a role money plays in the Christian publishing industry!

Now I understand not everyone can write just to write, or write what needs to be available. Or publish just any book. Publishing comes down to the bottom line, profit.

On a secular forum board recently a writer posted that they were nervous about having to write a sex scene for the very first time. Instead of just saying nothing, I replied. I suggested that he didn’t actually need to bend to the bandwagon. If he’d never felt the need to write such a scene before, he could still write an excellent book without it. And even appeal to a larger audience because he didn’t.

As a Christian, by my comment I meant so much more. But secular fiction is moved by secular values. And he wants to write what sells.

It’s the same for “Christian” fiction. Christian fiction is moved by Christian dysfunctions.

Now it might be true that dysfunctional marriages lead Christian women to escape into “Christian” romantic fiction. But that’s not always the case. Strong Christians read and write Christian romance novels.

Francine Rivers and Redeeming Love is the epitome of Christian faith fiction. I am also especially appreciative of authors Elizabeth Maddrey and Chautona Havig‘s real-life Christianity in the context of their romance stories.

But theirs is not the common denominator in Christian fiction. The common denominator is a dummied-down nominal Christianity. That’s where the money is.

  • For people who don’t want to grow in their faith through their time in fiction.
  • For people who don’t want to be challenged in their free time.
  • For people who want only to be entertained.

 .

Dysfunctional faith leads people to escape into borderline fiction.

Dysfunctional faith will earn a writer money. Take Love Comes Softly as an example. It’s a great series, but it’s great in a “it’s not dirty” kind of way. It’s wholesome. But is that what we should be doing? Is that ALL we should be doing? 

Just writing Little House on the Prairie Christianity? Wholesome fiction, get-away, beach-reads? Escaping from this world and its duties fiction? 

Case in point, alcohol is a gift from God.

The book of Proverbs and the gospels show us that wine is a gift for man to enable them to get a buzz, a bit of euphoria. That buzz helps us get through the low times of life, through the busy, hectic times of life. I live in Europe where the view on alcohol is not burdened by the judgmentalism of the Prohibition movement.

But while alcohol is a gift from God, we see as early as Noah’s time, that getting drunk is shameful. Too much alcohol is a sin. Elders and deacons and their wives are measured by this. And their standards are our standards. Not just “if” you want to be in leadership, their standards are the bare-minimum for the mature faith.

So too much alcohol–too much of this world–is a sin. Just as too much reading or too much entertainment is a sin. If it produces nothing but entertainment, it’s overdosing on buzz.

Do I have a Bible verse to back up this rant?

Yes. “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17).

Sins of omission.

How is reading frivolous wholesome fiction a sin of omission?

Because you have not used those hours of your life for the betterment of your relationship with God, or the betterment of the world.

The two greatest commandments, upon which the Law and the Prophets rest

It’s like sleeping your life away, and while sleep is necessary, and we can even say rest is necessary, oversleeping is a waste of the most precious resource we have: Time.

On the interview I mentioned earlier, the publisher said they are not looking for books with overt Christian message, but only those with a hidden Christian message. They intend to be cross-over books. As an example, she says, read any of Christ’s parables.

We don’t want Christian words, she says, we don’t want Christian messages. No conversions. No preaching. We want…good wins over evil, and be kind to others. Oh, and werewolves and vampires are okay, as long as they are the bad guys.

I couldn’t watch the rest of the interview.

I asked my husband, why is it that they want books that do not grow the reader in their faith through fiction? Why do they want hidden faith, covert messages?

Money, he said. That’s where the money is. It’s how the market of Christian fiction has to function.

And so we come to the faith porn industry. To make money, Christians sell out message for money.

Well I suggest that when Christianity loses its message, it ceases to be Christianity. “Authors have to make a living,” they may say. So they prostitute the name of Christ, and promote a lie.

When the message is traded out for things that are universally acceptable, like “good wins over evil,” it takes the beautiful name of Christ and drags it into the dregs of common-ism. It makes light of the cross. It should cease to use the name of Christ in its label and should be honest and upfront. It is moralistic worldly wisdom. Humanism.

To use the parables of Christ as an example of how to hide the message forgets the very cut-throat effect of his parables.

  • I am the good shepherd, read the message: “I myself am Yahweh of Ezekiel 34!” This parable sorted people into two groups: lovers and haters.
  • A certain man built his house on sand, another on rock, read the message: “My words are equal to the entire Law and the Prophets, if you reject me you reject God himself.” This parable sorted people into two groups: lovers and haters.
  • The prodigal son looked at the pigs around him and fled home, read the message: “You religious leaders have no compassion for the lost.” This parable sorted people into two groups: lovers and haters.

.

The parables are not happy wholesome secret messages. They are cut-throat. They divide between self-righteous God-haters and trembling beggars kneeling before God. Separation filters, each of them. Sorting people. Left and right, like sheep and goats.

Yes, we need more Christian science fiction and fantasy. But not by circumcising the gospel out of it.

I’m not saying I’m the best author who knows how to do this perfectly. I am not. I tried with Trunk of Scrolls, and for what it is I think my story’s beautiful.

But I have a vision, “I have a dream,” you could say, that Christian fiction would be a way for Christians to use their down time to be entertained into new growth in their faith. New avenues they hadn’t considered. New insights into the beauty of Christ.

I know it’s not only me who talks with others about these things. Bringing Heaven’s eternal conversations into the here-and-now.

I know what it’s like to build faith in someone face to face. Can’t we make the Christian fiction industry into THAT kind of thing?

So I’m starting a list of writers whose works are not ashamed of the Christian message and promoting true Christ-loving life. Please post the names of this caliber of author below along with titles you recommend, and add a blurb about why you think this qualifies. 

Thanks! 

–Darlene


“I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…Come further up, come further in!” Jewel the Unicorn in C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

A World Without Anthony

antony2We called him Anthony. People who knew him called him Tony or Antony. But for some reason our family called him Anthony. He was one of my husband’s best friends. Antony Simon was the pastor of our sister church in Jerusalem. He was always busy in evangelism and deeds of charity. Always moving. He died Monday night running across a street.

But Anthony’s death is proof that God doesn’t need us.

Everyone wants to feel needed. That they are indispensable to the world. Or that, somehow, it pleases God to need us. But that’s not true at all. He does not need a single person.

It’s a bit discouraging to realize this, but at the end of the day, it’s an essential of Christianity. God is all-sufficient. He did not create man because he needed something from them. He doesn’t need praise. He doesn’t need works. He doesn’t need our love. He doesn’t need to watch us enjoying his creation. He is perfectly satisfied without us.

In the eternal-time before time, God was perfectly content without us. And if he had never created the universe he would have continued perfectly content.

But as we always tell our kids, there’s a difference between need and want.

An artist doesn’t need to paint a single painting, and a potter does not need to spin a single pot out of clay. (Even if you think they need it for money, they don’t. They could instead plant some wheat or hunt for food and clothing.) Art is not a need, but a want. And artists want to create.

God wanted to create a universe, and to put mankind into this universe. And as the newly discovered Anthropic principle of science shows, the whole universe is set up for life to be on Earth.

The Why of him wanting MAN points to relationship.

The Almighty did not need to have a relationship with mankind. He chose to have it.

This dovetails into Anthony.

Anthony was a man who could not sit still. He was always busy about the work of the Lord. If it was in Jerusalem, he was on the streets telling nominal Christians about Christ, telling Jews about Christ, telling Muslims about Christ.

He had a method of evangelism he called “drive-by Bible distribution.” He would be driving, see someone on the side of the road, pull over, and grabbing a copy of the Bible in their language, would hand it to them and drive off before any argument. Not that he was afraid of confrontation, either. He could hold his own against all arguments. Facing off with anyone over the truths of Scripture. All for one purpose: that they would enter into a relationship with Christ.

antony3

His latest projects included regular trips to help the homeless war-stricken Syrian refugees in Iraq. He took blankets, food, supplies, Bibles and audioBibles to these people. It was on one of these trips, late Monday night 5/29/17, that he was taken home to be with the Lord. A car slapped the life out of him.

As anyone who knew him will tell you, Anthony always wanted to walk. No taxis for him. He said you meet more people when you walk, and the more people you see the more chance you have to share Christ with them. His fearless conversation starters intimidated me. Anthony’s concern for the eternal state of each individual made him disregard the walls of propriety and dive into conversation about Christ. Who knows how many people were shaken from complacency by hearing him speak of Christ’s work on the cross? It was just after refusing to take a taxi that he ran across the street and was hit by a car.

A recipient of Antony's gift
[A recipient of Antony’s gift]

I do not want to live in a world without Anthony. I hardly even knew him, but as his friend on Facebook I lived vicariously through his brave, single-minded devotion to obeying the Great Commission. I saw in Anthony the way we all should be, and used him as a personal model for what I wished I could be if I weren’t so timid.

In reading the responses of others likewise shocked by his death, I see I am not alone in feeling this way. He lived the way we all should live. What does it mean that God takes a man like Anthony?

And yet God took him, in the prime of his ministry. God took him. He didn’t need Anthony to keep doing that. Anthony was living how we all know we should be living, but God did not need that to keep going.

I find it hard to live in a world without Anthony because it means it’s not about me. God doesn’t need me to do anything. In God’s all-wise plan, good men die. 

And Anthony, though he certainly had sharp edges still, was doing justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with his God. No one is good but God alone, yet in Christ all our deeds are now good. But Anthony’s good works were no longer wanted by God.

So then what does this mean for me? The early death of obedient Christians teaches us one significant lesson. God doesn’t need me to be a mother. If I am not here, he will be my children’s mother. He doesn’t need me to be a wife. If I am not here, he will be the help and comfort to my husband. He doesn’t need me to be a teacher. If I am not here he will teach my children and those under my care at church. He doesn’t need me to DO anything because he is fully capable of doing it all himself.

Christ will build his Church, and neither the failures of the church nor the gates of hell can stand against that. So our failure to live with Anthony’s boldness does not hinder God.

But what of our good deeds? If they are not needed by God, why do we do them?

God does not need us, but the world needs us. As we bear others’ burdens we fulfill the law of Christ. As we go into the harvest field, his Word is scattered and the harvest is reaped. We are the Body of Christ acting on his Word to bring about what he wants. We are the means God uses to build his Church, but it is not us building that Church.

This idea could send us into a spiral of self-doubt and depression: God doesn’t need me? What am I, a pawn?

Or it can relieve us: He will build his Church, and I won’t be able to fail him. Nothing I can do can fail God!

What about you? Do you find your meaning in “helping” God? Or do you find your meaning in relationship? in being his child? “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” As you BE his child, in your acts of justice, kindness and mercy, in your compassion and peace, in your praises, you are glorifying God. As you BE learning who he is, through reading it in Scripture and declaring it through prayer, you are enjoying him forever.

He doesn’t need your works. He doesn’t need you.

But you get to pour out his compassion upon a hurting world.

You get to be his tool.

You get to speak forth truth.

You get to teach and train and comfort and hold those struggling to survive this broken world.

You get to rest in knowing your God and Savior.

My husband laughed as he considered Anthony in heaven, not sitting still, probably wanting to take audio Bibles to those in hell. What is this world without Anthony?

It’s a world where the Church is still “about its Father’s business.” It’s a world that is not diminished, but brighter. His death flared up that steadfast courage into the hearts of those left behind. We are different having known Anthony. We needed Anthony.

>>  See Anthony’s Video Message here  <<

antony[Antony on his last day, waving from Erbil Iraq]

Yes, we are timid. Yes, we are not as bold as he was. But God is not disabled now. The same God will bring about his same purposes to its appointed end even through Anthony’s death. It should relieve us that God is all-sufficient to bring about his purpose.

It should enable us to open our eyes to our small corner of the world.

How can we bring honor to Christ’s name as we interact with those under our influence?

How can we make minor changes to our schedule to create more time to meet people?

How can we bravely disregard invisible walls that come between a person and their eternity?


We only have TODAY.

Remember this and stand firm,

recall it to mind, you transgressors,

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….’

I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;

I have purposed, and I will do it.

Isaiah 46:8-11


Update 6/1/17 << Read Anthony’s Testimony Here >>

Update 6/2/17 (TO GIVE DONATIONS FOR HIS WIDOW & FAMILY–CLICK HERE)

BIG QUESTIONS OF LIFE

BIG QUESTIONS OF LIFE

cropped-TOSlogo.pngThe following are significant topics and big questions on Quora.

I believe that the Big Questions of life are put here by God as a Writing on the Wall, similar to the divine writing in the story in the Book of Daniel. I firmly believe that God put these questions on earth with the express intention of it leading people to finding the truth that is only found through the Incarnation and Atonement of Jesus Christ.

In reading my answers you will find a wholistic approach to faith and apologetics that leans more on the mind, on “intelligent Christianity,” than it does on quick sound-bite answers that leave you unsatisfied. I hope they stimulate your mind and assists you in interpreting the Writing on YOUR wall.  CLICK ON —

menemene

Mystic Union between Christ and the Saints

What is the Bride of Christ? We know that the Church is the bride, but WHAT is this bride? Some implications seem, almost, vulgar. But it is a concept repeatedly used in Scripture, in the Wisdom books, in the Prophets, and most emphatically from Christ himself and reiterated by the apostles. I recently came across this sermon, exactly the thing I was hunting for online. Read on to hear an amazing Puritan preacher, Thomas Watson, speak delicately and powerfully on this mystic union of Christ and his Bride.

by Thomas Watson


“My beloved is mine, and I am his.” (Song 2:16)

In this Song of Songs we see the love of Christ and his church running towards each other in a full torrent.

The text contains three general parts:
1. A symbol of affection: “My beloved.”
2. A term of appropriation: “is mine.”
3. A holy resignation: “I am his.”

Doctrine: That there is a conjugal union between Christ and believers. 

The apostle, having treated at large of marriage, winds up the whole chapter thus: “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:32). What is closer than union? What sweeter? There is a twofold union with Christ:

1. A natural union. This all men have, Christ having taken their nature on him and not that of the angels (Heb. 2:16). But if there is no more than this natural union, it will give little comfort. Thousands are damned though Christ is united to their nature.

2. A sacred union. By this we are mystically united to Christ. The union with Christ is not personal. If Christ’s essence were transfused into the person of a believer, then it would follow that all that a believer does should be meritorious.

But the union between Christ and a saint is:

(a) Federal: “My beloved is mine.” God the Father gives the bride; God the Son receives the bride; God the Holy Ghost ties the knot in marriage – he knits our wills to Christ and Christ’s love to us.

(b) Effectual. Christ unites himself to his spouse by his graces and influences: “of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace” (John 1:16). Christ makes himself one with the spouse by conveying his image and stamping the impress of his own holiness upon her.

This union with Christ may well be called mystic. It is hard to describe the manner of it. It is hard to show how the soul is united to the body, and how Christ is united to the soul. But though this union is spiritual, it is real. Things in nature often work insensibly, yet really (Eccles. 11:5). We do not see the hand move on the dial, yet it moves. The sun exhales and draws up the vapours of the earth insensibly yet really. So the union between Christ and the soul, though it is imperceptible to the eye of reason, is still real (I Cor. 6:17).

Before this union with Christ there must be a separation. The heart must be separated from all other lovers, as in marriage there is a leaving of father and mother: “Forget your own people, and your father’s house.” (Psa. 45:10). So there must be a leaving of our former sins, a breaking off the old league with hell before we can be united to Christ. “Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols?” (Hos. 14:8), or as it is in the Hebrew, “with sorrows.” Those sins which were looked on before as lovers, are now sorrows. There must be a divorce before a union.

The purpose of our conjugal union with Christ is twofold:

1. Co-habitation. This is one purpose of marriage, to live together: “that Christ may dwell in your hearts” (Eph. 2:17). It is not enough to pay Christ a few complimentary visits in his ordinances – hypocrites may do so – but there must be a mutual associating. We must dwell upon the thoughts of Christ: “he that abides in God” (cf. I John 3:24). Married persons should not live apart.

2. Fruit bearing: “That you may be married to another; to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.” (Rom. 7:4). The spouse bears the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness (Gal. 5:22). Barrenness is a shame in Christ’s spouse.

This marriage union with Christ is the most noble and excellent union:

(a) Christ unites himself to many. In other marriages only one person is taken, but here millions are taken. Otherwise, poor souls might cry out, “Alas! Christ has married So-and-so, but what is that to me? I am left out.” No, Christ marries thousands. It is a holy and chaste polygamy. Multitudes of people do not defile this marriage bed. Any poor sinner who brings a humble, believing heart may be married to Christ.

(b) There is a closer union in this holy marriage than there can be in any other. In other marriages, two make one flesh, but Christ and the believer make one spirit: “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (I Cor. 6:17). Now as the soul is more excellent than the body, and admits of far greater joy, so this spiritual union brings in more astonishing delights and ravishments than any other marriage relationship is capable of. The joy that flows from the mystic union is unspeakable and full of glory (I Peter 1:8).

(c) This union with Christ never ceases. “Thrice happy they whom an unbroken bond unites” (Horace). Other marriages are soon at an end. Death cuts asunder the marriage knot, but this conjugal union is eternal. You who are once Christ’s spouse shall never again be a widow: “I will betroth you to me forever” (Hosea 2:19). To speak properly, our marriage with Christ begins where other marriages end, at death.

In this life there is only the contract. The Jews had a time set between their engagement and marriage, sometimes a year or more. In this life there is only the engagement and contract; promises are made on both sides, and love passes secretly between Christ and the soul. He gives some smiles of his face, and the soul sends up her sighs and drops tears of love. But all this is only a preliminary work, and something leading up to the marriage. The glorious completing and solemnizing of the marriage is reserved for heaven. There is the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9) and the bed of glory perfumed with love where the souls of the elect shall be perpetually consoling themselves. “Then shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thess. 4:17). So death merely begins our marriage with Christ.

APPLICATIONS

Application 1: If Christ is the head of the mystic body (Eph. 1:22), then this doctrine beheads the Pope, that man of sin who usurps this prerogative of being the head of the church, and so would defile Christ’s marriage bed. What blasphemy this is! Two heads are monstrous. Christ is Head, as he is Husband. There is no vice-husband, no deputy in his place. The Pope is the beast in Revelation (Rev. 13:11). To make him head of the church, what would this be but to set the head of a beast upon the body of a man?


Application 2: If there is such a conjugal union, let us test whether we are united to Christ:

1. Have we chosen Christ to set our love upon, and is this choice founded on knowledge?

2. Have we consented to the match? It is not enough that Christ is willing to have us, but are we willing to have him? God does not so force salvation upon us that we shall have Christ whether we want to or not. We must consent to have him. Many approve of Christ, but do not give their consent. And this consent must be:

(a) Pure and genuine. We consent to have him for his own worth and excellence: “You are fairer than the sons of men” (Psa. 45:2).

(b) A present consent: “now is the acceptable time” (2 Cor. 6:2). If we put Christ off with delays and excuses, perhaps he will stop coming. He will leave off wooing. “His spirit shall no longer strive,” and then, poor sinner, what will you do? When God’s wooing ends, your woes begin.

3. Have we taken Christ? Faith is the bond of the union. Christ is joined to us by his Spirit, and we are joined to him by faith. Faith ties the marriage knot.

4. Have we given ourselves up to Christ? Thus the spouse in the text says, “I am his,” as if she had said, “All I have is for the use and service of Christ.” Have we made a surrender? Have we given up our name and will to Christ? When the devil solicits by a temptation, do we say, “We are not our own, we are Christ’s; our tongues are his, we must not defile them with oaths; our bodies are his temple, we must not pollute them with sin?” If it is so, it is a sign that the Holy Ghost has produced this blessed union between Christ and us.


Application 3: Is there this mystic union? Then from that we may draw many inferences:

1. See the dignity of all true believers. They are joined in marriage with Christ. There is not only assimilation but union; they are not only like Christ but one with Christ. All the saints have this honour. When a king marries a beggar, by virtue of the union she is ennobled and made of the blood royal. As wicked men are united to the prince of darkness, and he settles hell upon them as their inheritance, so the godly are divinely united to Christ, who is King of kings, and Lord of Lords (Rev. 19:16). By virtue of this sacred union the saints are dignified above the angels. Christ is the Lord of the angels, but not their husband.

2. See how happily all the saints are married. They are united to Christ, who is the best Husband, “the Chiefest among ten thousand” (Song 5:10). Christ is a Husband that cannot be paralleled:

(a) For tender care. The spouse cannot be as considerate of her own soul and credit as Christ is considerate of her: “He cares for you” (I Pet. 5:7). Christ has a debate with himself, consulting and projecting how to carry on the work of our salvation. He transacts all our affairs, he attends to our business as his own. Indeed, he himself is concerned in it. He brings fresh supplies to his spouse. If she wanders out of the way, he guides her. If she stumbles, he holds her by the hand. If she falls, he raises her. If she is dull, he quickens her by his Spirit. If she is perverse, he draws her with cords of love. If she is sad, he comforts her with promises.

(b) For ardent affection. No husband loves like Christ. The Lord says to the people, “I have loved you,” and they say, “In what way have you loved us?” (Mal. 1:2). But we cannot say to Christ, “In what way have you loved us?” Christ has given real demonstrations of his love to his spouse. He has sent her his Word, which is a love-letter, and he has given her his Spirit, which is a love-token. Christ loves more than any other husband:

  • Christ puts a richer robe on his bride: “For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Isa. 61:10). In this robe, God looks on us as if we had not sinned. This robe is as truly ours to justify us, as it is Christ’s to bestow on us. This robe not only covers but adorns. Having on this robe, we are reputed righteous, not only as righteous as angels, but as righteous as Christ: “that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
  • Christ gives his bride not only his golden garments but his image. He loves her into his own likeness. A husband may have a dear affection for his wife, but he cannot stamp his own image on her. If she is deformed, he may give her a veil to hide it, but he cannot put his beauty on her. But Christ imparts “the beauty of holiness” to his spouse: “Your fame went out among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through My splendor which I had bestowed on you,” (Ezek. 16:14). When Christ marries a soul, he makes it fair: “You are all fair, my love” (Song 4:7). Christ never thinks he has loved his spouse enough till he can see his own face in her.
  • Christ discharges those debts which no other husband can. Our sins are the worst debts we owe. If all the angels should contribute money, they could not pay one of these debts, but Christ frees us from these. He is both a Husband and a Surety. He says to justice what Paul said concerning Onesimus, “But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account.” (Philem. 1:18).
  • Christ has suffered more for his spouse than ever any husband did for a wife. He suffered poverty and ignominy. He who crowned the heavens with stars was himself crowned with thorns. He was called a companion of sinners, so that we might be made companions of angels. He was regardless of his life; he leaped into the sea of his Father’s wrath to save his spouse from drowning.
  • Christ’s love does not end with his life. He loves his spouse for ever: “I will betroth you to me forever” (Hos. 2:19). Well may the apostle call it “a love which passes knowledge” (Eph. 3:19).

3. See how rich believers are. They have married into the crown of heaven, and by virtue of the conjugal union all Christ’s riches go to believers: “communion is founded in union.” Christ communicates his graces (John 1:16 ). As long as Christ has them, believers shall not be in want. And he communicates his privileges – justification, glorification. He settles a kingdom on his spouse as her inheritance (Heb. 12:28). This is a key to the apostle’s riddle, “as having nothing, and yet possessing all things” (2 Cor. 6:10). By virtue of the marriage union, the saints have an interest in all Christ’s riches.

4. See how fearful a sin it is to abuse the saints. It is an injury done to Christ, for believers are mystically one with him: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4). When the body was wounded, the Head, being in heaven, cried out. In this sense, men crucify Christ afresh (Heb. 6:6), because what is done to his members is done to him. If Gideon was avenged upon those who slew his brethren, will not Christ much more be avenged on those that wrong his spouse (Judges 8:21)? Will a king tolerate having his treasure rifled, his crown thrown in the dust, his queen beheaded? Will Christ bear with the affronts and injuries done to his bride? The saints are the apple of Christ’s eye (Zech. 2:8), and let those who strike at his eye answer for it. Isa 49:26 “I will feed those who oppress you with their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine” (Isa. 49:26).

5. See the reason why the saints so rejoice in the Word and sacrament, because here they meet with their Husband, Christ. The wife desires to be in the presence of her husband. The ordinances are the chariot in which Christ rides, the lattice through which he looks forth and shows his smiling face. Here Christ displays the banner of love (Song 2:4). The Lord’s Supper is nothing other than a pledge and earnest of that eternal communion which the saints shall have with Christ in heaven. Then he will take the spouse into his bosom. If Christ is so sweet in an ordinance, when we have only short glances and dark glimpses of him by faith, oh then, how delightful and ravishing will his presence be in heaven when we see him face to face and are for ever in his loving embraces!


Application 4: This mystic union affords much comfort to believers in several cases:

1. In the case of the disrespect and unkindness of the world: “in wrath they hate me” (Psa. 55:3). But though we live in an unkind world, we have a kind Husband: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you” (John 15:9). What angel can tell how God the Father loves Christ? Yet the Father’s love to Christ is made the copy and pattern of Christ’s love to his spouse. This love of Christ as far exceeds all created love as the sun outshines the light of a torch. And is not this a matter of comfort? Though the world hates me, Christ still loves me.

2. In the case of weakness of grace. The believer cannot lay hold on Christ, except with a trembling hand. There is a “spirit of infirmity” on him, but oh, weak Christian, here is strong consolation: there is a conjugal union. You are the spouse of Christ, and he will bear with you as the weaker vessel. Will a husband divorce his wife because she is weak and sickly? No, he will be the more tender with her. Christ hates treachery, but he will pity infirmity. When the spouse is faint and ready to be discouraged, Christ puts his left hand under her head (Song 2:6). This is the spouse’s comfort when she is weak. Her Husband can infuse strength into her: “My God shall be my strength” (Isa. 49:5).

3. In the case of death. When believers die, they go to their Husband. Who would not be willing to cross the gulf of death that they might meet with their Husband, Christ? “I desire to loosen anchor” (Phil. 1:23), and be with Christ. What though the way is dirty? We are going to our friend. When a woman is engaged, she longs for the day of marriage. After the saints’ funeral, their marriage begins. The body is a prison to the soul. Who would not desire to exchange a prison for a marriage bed? How glad Joseph was to go out of prison to the king’s court! God is wise; he lets us meet with changes and troubles here, so that he may wean us from the world and make us long for death. When the soul is divorced from the body, it is married to Christ.

4. In the case of passing sentence at the day of judgment. There is a marriage union and, oh Christian, your Husband shall be your judge. A wife would not fear appearing at the bar if her husband was sitting as judge. What though the devil should bring in many indictments against you? Christ will expunge your sins in his blood. Could he possibly say, “I shall condemn my spouse?” Oh, what a comfort this is! The Husband is judge. Christ cannot pass sentence against his spouse without passing it against himself. For Christ and believers are one.

5. In the case of the saints’ suffering. The church of God is exposed in this life to many injuries, but she has a Husband in heaven who is mindful of her and will “turn water into wine” for her. Now it is a time of mourning with the spouse because the Bridegroom is absent (Matt. 9:15). But shortly she shall put off her mourning. Christ will wipe the tears of blood off the cheeks of his spouse: “He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces” (Isa. 25:8). Christ will comfort his spouse for as much time as she has been afflicted. He will solace her with his love; he will take away the cup of trembling and give her the cup of consolation. And now she shall forget all her sorrows, being called into the banqueting house of heaven and having the banner of Christ’s love displayed over her.


Application 5: Let me press several duties upon those who have this marriage union with Christ:

1. Make use of this relationship in two cases:

(a) When the law brings in its indictments against you. The law says, “Here there are so many debts to be paid,” and it demands satisfaction. Acknowledge the debt, but turn it all over to your Husband, Christ. It is a maxim in law that the suit must not go against the wife, as long as the husband is living. Tell Satan when he accuses you, “It is true that the debt is mine, but go to my Husband, Christ; he will discharge it.” If we took this course, we might relieve ourselves of much trouble. By faith we turn over the debt to our Husband. Believers are not in a state of widowhood but of marriage. Satan will never go to Christ – he knows that justice is satisfied and the debt book cancelled – but he comes to us for the debt so that he may perplex us. We should send him to Christ and then all lawsuits would cease. This is a believer’s triumph. When he is guilty in himself, he is worthy in Christ. When he is spotted in himself, he is pure in his Head.

(b) In the case of desertion. Christ may (for reasons best known to himself) step aside for a time: “my beloved had withdrawn himself” (Song 5:6). Do not say, therefore, that Christ has gone for good. It is a fruit of jealousy in a wife, when her husband has left her a while, to think that he has gone from her for good. Every time Christ removes himself out of sight, it is wrong for us to say (like Zion), “The Lord has forsaken me” (Isa. 49:14). This is jealousy, and it is a wrong done to the love of Christ and the sweetness of this marriage relationship. Christ may forsake his spouse in regard of comfort, but he will not forsake her in regard of union. A husband may be a thousand miles distant from his wife, but he is still a husband. Christ may leave his spouse, but the marriage knot still holds.

2. Rejoice in your Husband, Christ. Has Christ honoured you by taking you into the marriage relationship and making you one with himself? This calls for joy. By virtue of the union, believers are sharers with Christ in his riches. It was a custom among the Romans, when the wife was brought home, for her to receive the keys of her husband’s house, intimating that the treasure and custody of the house was now committed to her. When Christ brings his bride home to those glorious mansions which he has gone ahead to prepare for her (John 14:2), he will hand over the keys of his treasure to her, and she shall be as rich as heaven can make her. And shall not the spouse rejoice and sing aloud upon her bed (Psa. 149:5)? Christians, let the times be ever so sad, you may rejoice in your spiritual espousals (Hab. 3:17,18). Let me tell you, it is a sin not to rejoice. You disparage your Husband, Christ. When a wife is always sighing and weeping, what will others say? “This woman has a bad husband.” Is this the fruit of Christ’s love to you, to reflect dishonour upon him? A melancholy spouse saddens Christ’s heart. I do not deny that Christians should grieve for sins of daily occurrence, but to be always weeping (as if they mourned without hope) is dishonourable to the marriage relationship. “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4). Rejoicing brings credit to your husband. Christ loves a cheerful bride, and indeed the very purpose of God’s making us sad is to make us rejoice. We sow in tears, so that we may reap in joy. The excessive sadness and contrition of the godly will make others afraid to embrace Christ. They will begin to question whether there is that satisfactory joy in religion which is claimed. Oh, you saints of God, do not forget consolation; let others see that you do not repent of your choice. It is joy that puts liveliness and activity into a Christian: “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10). The soul is swiftest in duty when it is carried on the wings of joy.

3. Adorn this marriage relationship, so that you may be a crown to your husband.

(a) Wear a veil. We read of the spouse’s veil (Song 5:7). This veil is humility.

(b) Put on your jewels. These are the graces which for their lustre are compared to rows of pearl and chains of gold (Song 1:1O). These precious jewels distinguish Christ’s bride from strangers.

(c) Behave as becomes Christ’s spouse:

  • In chastity. Be chaste in your judgments; do not defile yourselves with error. Error adulterates the mind (1 Tim. 6:5). It is one of Satan’s artifices first to defile the judgment, then the conscience.
  • In sanctity. It is not for Christ’s spouse to behave like harlots. A naked breast and a wanton tongue do not become a saint. Christ’s bride must shine forth in gospel purity, so that she may make her husband fall in love with her. A woman was asked what dowry she brought her husband. She answered that she had no dowry, but she promised to keep herself chaste. So though we can bring Christ no dowry, yet he expects us to keep ourselves pure, not spotting the breasts of our virginity by contagious and scandalous sins.

4. Love your Husband, Christ (Song 2:5). Love him though he is reproached and persecuted. A wife loves her husband when in prison. To inflame your love towards Christ, consider:

(a) Nothing else is fit for you to love. If Christ is your Husband, it is not fit to have other lovers who would make Christ grow jealous.

(b) He is worthy of your love. He is of unparalleled beauty: “altogether lovely” (Song 5:16).

(c) How fervent is Christ’s love towards you! He loves you in your worst condition, he loves you in affliction. The goldsmith loves his gold in the furnace. He loves you notwithstanding your fears and blemishes. The saints’ infirmities cannot wholly remove Christ’s love from them (Jer. 3:1). Oh then, how the spouse should be endeared in her love to Christ! This will be the excellence of heaven. Our love will then be like the sun in its full strength.

[From The Godly Man’s Picture by Thomas Watson, a Puritan Paperback edition published by the Banner of Truth.]


This video sets out some of the Jewish customs related to Christ’s “Bride” references to his Church.

SOURCES:

Thanks to puritansermons.com for hosting this sermon of Thomas Watson! http://www.puritansermons.com/watson/watson3.htm

Index to Thomas Watson

A Memoir of Thomas Watson by Charles Spurgeon


 

The Vote: Pick Your Poison, or is it something else?

shaltnotI thought I wouldn*t watch
the Presidential Debates.

I thought I would just stick my head in the sand and hope for the election to be over before I pulled it out again.

But I watched the SNL parody of the Presidential Debates which made me wonder about the actual Debate. And next thing I knew I was very interested in the manner and answers of the Sept 26 debate.

If you only read Facebook posts, you would think the vote is over this question:

“Who is the least wicked?”

On one side of the scale we have
unethical ….and deleting ….and setting people up for murder
and on the other we have
groping…and funny hair…and not paying…and cheating at….

balance-154516_640So as Christians we weigh, which is worse? Deleting emails vs. Adultery?  Attempted murder or tax evasion? The ad hominem attacks expose almost every hidden aspect of the lives of the candidates, and we have to say…hmmm…which is actually worse? Which is more tolerable to have in a leader? “What do the 10 Commandments say?”

I have some good news for you.
A wicked person will be in the White House.

First of all, we are all wicked.  Secondly, a third party candidate cannot win unless there is an “act of God” destroying both candidates before the election. (After the election, of course, the VP would become Commander-in-Chief.)

Why is this good news?

Note well. This is not an ethics vote. It is NOT asking you to vote for the best-of-the-worse SIN.  We don’t like it. But facts are facts–One of those sinners will be in the White House. Inasmuch as Clinton, Reagan, Carter, Nixon, Obama, Jefferson, and JFK were sinners, we have a doozy….again. We have a sinner, again, in the White House.

Case in point…JFK, for all his fame and fortune, was a womanizer. He just didn*t talk about it, like “he” does.  JFK was involved with the Mafia and kept his criminal secrets just as mum as “she” does.

John-F.-Kennedy-630x310

This is not an ethics vote. We’d love for Jesus to be king. But we’re stuck with a fallen human. And this vote we are stuck with an America that has become transparent about flaunting sins. The downfall and openness began with Monica, but the sins have been there since…at least…yep. Even “I Cannot Tell a Lie” Washington (and his illegitimate children).

Don’t let their “holier than thou” fight distract you from the true issues. It’s not a contest over appearances and demeanor–not who will “look like” the best President, or who is most-informed. Those are externals, and can be shaped and learned and, worse, we can be manipulated about them.

THIS IS NOT A VOTE FOR THE LEAST WICKED

The Presidential Debate was as clear as day.

Considering the JOB DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESIDENT

we find we have to make a choice between TWO EXTREMES. And you may already know which side you stand on. EASY DECISION.

We are voting for an Economic Policy
We are voting for an International Policy

dollar-1362244_640 Economic Policy:

Big government  vs small government; Robin Hood vs Bill Gates

Big Government (Robin Hood):

“The central question in this election is really what kind of country we want to be and what kind of future we’ll build together….First, we have to build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top. That means we need new jobs, good jobs, with rising incomes.

I want us to invest in you. I want us to invest in your future. That means jobs in infrastructure, in advanced manufacturing, innovation and technology, clean, renewable energy, and small business, because most of the new jobs will come from small business. We also have to make the economy fairer. That starts with raising the national minimum wage and also guarantee, finally, equal pay for women’s work.

I also want to see more companies do profit-sharing. If you help create the profits, you should be able to share in them, not just the executives at the top.

And I want us to do more to support people who are struggling to balance family and work. I’ve heard from so many of you about the difficult choices you face and the stresses that you’re under. So let’s have paid family leave, earned sick days. Let’s be sure we have affordable child care and debt-free college.

How are we going to do it? We’re going to do it by having the wealthy pay their fair share and close the corporate loopholes….”

“We also, though, need to have a tax system that rewards work and not just financial transactions….

We just have a different view about what’s best for growing the economy, how we make investments that will actually produce jobs and rising incomes.

I think we come at it from somewhat different perspectives. I understand that.”

HIllary Clinton, at Sept 26 Debate 

Small Government (Bill Gates):

“Our jobs are fleeing the country. They’re going to Mexico. They’re going to many other countries. You look at what China is doing to our country in terms of making our product. They’re devaluing their currency, and there’s nobody in our government to fight them. And we have a very good fight. And we have a winning fight. Because they’re using our country as a piggy bank to rebuild China, and many other countries are doing the same thing.

So we’re losing our good jobs, so many of them. When you look at what’s happening in Mexico, a friend of mine who builds plants said it’s the eighth wonder of the world. They’re building some of the biggest plants anywhere in the world, some of the most sophisticated, some of the best plants. With the United States, as he said, not so much.

So Ford is leaving. You see that, their small car division leaving. Thousands of jobs leaving Michigan, leaving Ohio. They’re all leaving. And we can’t allow it to happen anymore. As far as child care is concerned and so many other things, I think Hillary and I agree on that. We probably disagree a little bit as to numbers and amounts and what we’re going to do, but perhaps we’ll be talking about that later.

But we have to stop our jobs from being stolen from us. We have to stop our companies from leaving the United States and, with it, firing all of their people. All you have to do is take a look at Carrier air conditioning in Indianapolis. They left—fired 1,400 people. They’re going to Mexico. So many hundreds and hundreds of companies are doing this.

We cannot let it happen. Under my plan, I’ll be reducing taxes tremendously, from 35 percent to 15 percent for companies, small and big businesses. That’s going to be a job creator like we haven’t seen since Ronald Reagan. It’s going to be a beautiful thing to watch.

Companies will come. They will build. They will expand. New companies will start. And I look very, very much forward to doing it. We have to renegotiate our trade deals, and we have to stop these countries from stealing our companies and our jobs.”

Donald Trump at Sept 26 Debate 

So looking at the bolded words, which of the philosophies do you hold? Not a hard choice…

Do you believe the government should force companies to give benefits to people to make things fair, or do you believe companies need to be trusted to give good benefits (increased wages, etc) as the company gets stronger? Think of Microsoft. Or Google. Or compare

What will businesses do to get and keep the best employees? What will businesses do to get “ahead of the pack”? Do you trust the “invisible hand of economics” that Adam Smith spoke of? Yes or No. No=Clinton, big govt; Yes=Trump, small govt.

We know for sure that Hillary Clinton wants to help the lower class get a break. She’ll fight for that.

We know for sure that Donald Trump wants to help businessmen to return their businesses to America. He’ll fight for that. And businessmen will do what they will do.

flags-1615129_640International Policy:

Appease them into agreement vs.
manipulate them financially into agreement

Read/watch the second half of the Presidential Debates TRANSCRIPT (with factcheck)  VIDEO to see details, the most hotly debated section. Hard to pin down. But things I noted.

Hillary Clinton is satisfied with her current method of dealing with other countries re: ISIS, NATO, China, Japan. Hillary’s facts were mostly accurate. A political scientist facing other politicians.

Donald Trump wants to expect countries to bear their fair share of responsibility in paying for NATO, fighting ISIS, he wants to not let other countries step on us as they benefit financially from us, and he wants to tackle the national debt. Trump’s facts were guesses, often inaccurate, except when it had to do with large amounts of money at which point it was accurate. A businessman facing other business-minded world-leaders. 

Which takes you back to your first question of economy. And to the job description of the President.

So, be relieved you do NOT have to “PICK YOUR least-hated CRIME.”

You need to IDENTIFY your preexisting philosophy
on economy and on politics.

Be HONEST about how you think things work.
Don*t be distracted. CHOOSE that philosophy.
And TRUST the election results to God..
MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON AMERICA.

But most of all
keep sharing Jesus with your neighbors,
because America*s only hope lies
on the shoulders of the Church.

Their only hope is the PROMISE OF GOD in JESUS.

1290 Days

ancient-1246447_1920What would you do if you knew you only had 7 years left to live?
What would you do if you knew the world had only 7 years left?

I am not Chicken Little. I shy away from any kind of “end times” prophecy like I would the Tar Baby.

A few months ago, and again the other day I was reading in Daniel, and was floored by something.

Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand. And from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1,290 days.Blessed is he who waits and arrives at the 1,335 days. But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days.”

Daniel 12:10-12

A note in my New Geneva Study Bible says, “the significance of these time frames is obscure,” since it is not connected to the earlier “three and a half years” prophecies. This got me thinking.

I have been to the Temple Mount, and have seen the Muslim shrine standing where Solomon’s temple used to be. IMHO, that is an abomination. I did a very little history research about this and found out something that rocked my world.

RESEARCH RESULTS

Date of Destruction of Temple of Solomon (where Ezekiel says the Spirit left.) 597* /587 BC

1290 years–>

Date of Building of the Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount, between AD 688 and 691

1335 years from Dome of the Rock–>

AD 2023-2026

597 BC–>1290 years –> 688-691 AD–> 1335 years –> AD 2023-2026

WHAT THIS MEANS

All of this says to me one thing–NOT that the world is ending in seven to eleven years. It asks me,

What would you do differently if you knew the world would end in seven years?

  • Would you more earnestly do and check-off things on your “Bucket List”?
  • Would you cross of unimportant things on that Bucket list?
  • Would you reconsider your life, and even your lifestyle, and make significant changes?
  • Would you stop playing that video game?
  • Would you spend more time with your family?
  • Would you spend more free time visiting with non-Christian friends and family?
  • Would you be busier storing up heavenly treasures?
  • Would your priorities and decisions be different?
  • Would you be more patient?
  • Would you be more faithful?
  • Would you be more generous with your wealth and outward estate?
  • Would you number your days?
  • Are you doing what you would want to do in your last seven years of life?
  • Are you doing what you would want to do during the last seven years of life on earth?

For one of these days, there WILL only be seven years left on earth.

END OF LIFE/ END OF THE WORLD RESOLUTIONS

Jonathan Edwards made a couple resolutions related to this:

19. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.

and

17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.

and

50. Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world.

Jesus said that no one knows the day or the hour:

“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven,nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Matthew 24:32-44

WHAT*S WITH THE NUMBERS?

So the book of Daniel gives us numbers, and we should use them. After all, why would they be in the Bible if they were useless? Even Daniel himself saw that Jeremiah promised that Cyrus would send them back to Jerusalem 70 years after the exile.

In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, by descent a Mede, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans— in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.

Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession…  

Daniel 9:2-4

appletree

DOGMATISM vs SELF-EXAMINATION

But we cannot be dogmatic about dates and times because of Christ’s warnings (see above). Ultimately, the purpose of the dates is to stir us up. Like Daniel, it should draw us to prayer and confession and self-examination.  Scripture expects us to be wise and consider these two questions:

Action Point:
  1. Are you living life in such a way that you would not regret how you spent TODAY if the Lord returns in 2023?
  2. How do you feel about the return of Christ? When “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.'” Do you answer “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”? (Rev 22:20)
  3. We would love to read your answers in the comments below…



Notes

*1-The typical date given for the destruction of the temple is 587 BC, Babylonian documents themselves appear to date Nebuchadnezzar’s seige to 597 BC. Jeremiah states three exiles 597 “the seventh year,” 586 “the eighteenth year” and a smaller third exile after that. (See Missing Years). No one knows exactly the date for the actual destruction when the “regular burnt offering is taken away.” There was no year 0. There have been various calendar systems since ancient times. Lunar, solar, Julian, Gregorian. It is possible these changes relate to the ten missing years as well. Because of these things, the dates actually still are cloaked in mystery. Additionally, my claim that the Dome of the Rock is an abomination of desolation is just a claim. Is it “the Abomination of Desolation”? Is it one of many that will come? *2-http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-resolutions-of-jonathan-edwards

Athiest Claims to See Hell

Can a changed life provide evidence that
a proported event has happened?

In the case below, this college professor on his death-bed experiences some of the pains of what he says was hell.  The change in his life shows that SOMETHING happened. What would a scientist say to these claims? How would the scientist explain this experience?

Part One

Part Two

It’s science week. How do we approach this from a scientific perspective? A scientist sets up the observation. Looks at the evidence. Considers the laws at work, and looks for the best explanation. Then the scientist tests their theory.

Looking at the Evidence

We have watched the videos. The man says he was an athiest. He got sick and died/almost died. During this time he had a horrifying experience which he called hell. His experience in “hell” changed when he called out,

“Jesus, please help me!”  

Then positive things happened, resulting in his coming back to this life and being healed by the doctors.

Considering the Laws at Work
& Looking for the Best Explanation

This is an issue in the mental-psychological realm

Either he saw something. (Truth-teller)

Or thought he saw something. (Self-deceived/delusional)

Or did not see anything, but said he saw something. (Liar)

From the change in his life we can probably rule out the Liar option, since many years passed between the experience and the recording, yet he did not change his story. It appears he obviously believes in his own story. So either he is delusional or telling the truth.

How can science help us know if he is telling the truth or not? Do we need to determine our boundaries?

Reductive Naturalism

…would say that the answer has to lie in the physical world. It could not be true that he experienced something in the supernatural. It was in his mind, and something he saw flipped his view of reality. So he would be delusional, somehow. They would run a battery of tests to find out what kind of psychological problems he has. Simple.

A Theistic Explanation

…would not automatically reduce the possibilities to physical world, so the option of super-nature is still on the table. He might have seen something, and that something might be supernatural.

Testing the Theory

How can we test if he is telling the truth about what he said?

We could test for delusional psychology. Test how he interacts outside of this recording. Is his lifestyle consistent with his profession of faith in God? (Or does he speak on contrary topics elsewhere, for example). We’d need to check his life. To see if he is a habitual liar, or if his actions reflect someone who is not in touch with reality.

If his lifestyle is consistent with his profession of faith in God, we could test if he speaks in accordance with theistic laws.

When I listened to him, I was keenly aware of each point he said, and compared it with what the Bible says. Why the Bible? Because through other reasoning I have come to the confidence in the reliability of the Bible in matters of supernature.

I measured his words against the Bible. It didn’t seem to contradict…

It seems simplistic, because by the same measure we would also have to say that those who see aliens could possibly be telling the truth. And those who are in non-Christian religions who have similar experiences have to be taken at face-value.

I am prepared to consider their cases in the same way. And in the same way, I would measure their words against the Bible’s presentation of the supernatural/natural world connection.

Case in point–

 “The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven”

This best seller about a boy who “saw heaven” had a lot of rubbish, inaccurate according to the Bible. It came out later that the boy and his father were lying. The boy fessed up, but the father keeps reaping the royalties.

Afterlife Travelogues

Unfortunately, the “afterlife travelogue” presented above is firstly questionable because it has dangerous implications. If we believe he went to actual hell, he would be disproving the existence of hell.

What I mean is, we understand hell, and the power of the name of Jesus, from Scripture.

The Bible says,“man is destined to die once and after that to face judgment.” Heb 9:27

If his experience was actually hell,
one man’s experience would be disproving the book of Hebrews.

And if he disproves Hebrews, all of Scripture is suspect. And if Scripture is suspect, his being saved by the name of Jesus is suspect. Meaning that if he were actually in the hell Christ spoke of, he was not where he thought he was, and he could not have been rescued by the one he thought rescued him. It’s self-contradicting.

Experience must bow to Scripture. If your experience tells you something contrary to the Bible, your INTERPRETATION of your experience is wrong.

It [the afterlife-story phenomena] is not harmless. It denigrates the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. It confounds faith with superstition. It subtly elevates human experience to a higher level than the Word of God. It purports to reveal things about God and the heavenly realm that are not taught in Scripture. And it repeatedly insinuates that the testimony of someone who has been mystically enlightened can be a more effective stimulant to faith than Scripture alone…

Thus says John MacArthur. He continues…

This is just one example of a large and growing subgenre of afterlife travelogues popular today—a genre that includes at least two mega-best-selling titles from evangelical publishers. The authors of these stories—and evi­dently millions of readers as well—regard these testimonies as authori­tative, reliable, and full of superior insights that can take readers to a higher level of understanding and enlightenment beyond what we can get from the Bible.

In other words, all of these books take a similarly protognostic stance on heaven and the afterlife. All of them are dan­gerous and misleading. That includes the ones that seem fairly benign as well as the ones that are clearly steeped in occult superstition. All of them stand as reminders to us that Scripture and Scripture alone is the only safe place for Christians to learn anything about the immortality of human souls, what happens to a person after death, what heaven is like, what awaits the unrighteous in hell, and what we can expect in the judgment to come.

Conclusions

So my final conclusion (after testing his life/mental state) might be that he saw something. Maybe a dream or something dream-like. But he did see something.

But he did not go to hell.

Because his life changed drastically, 180*, I know a frightening experience happened to him. He had a supernatural, near-death experience that shook his foundations. But according to Scripture, he did not die and he did not go to hell. He got a chance to make things right. Good for him.

Comments: What do you think?