Bible Studies/judgement

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QUESTION: Hi - thankyou for taking my question. While i realize that you must believe in Jesus to get to heaving, I dont necessarily believe that you cant make that decision after death when you meet him face to face. Are there any biblical verses that state you cant?

ANSWER: Dear Peter,

Thank you for your question about, when you meet Christ after death, face to face, to decide at that time to believe in Him. Actually, it would be too late by then.
Here’s why I say that:

Paul tells us that the best time to be sure of salvation is NOW!
2Corinthians_6:2  For He says: "In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, NOW is the accepted time; behold, NOW is the day of salvation.

Why would Paul make such an adamant statement if we could wait until after we die to make a firm decision for Christ? It’s because Paul knew what happens after death. Notice what the Bible says about death:

1. People who are dead don’t know anything:
Ecclesiastes. 9:5, 6  For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, And they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; Nevermore will they have a share In anything done under the sun.

2. People who are dead are “asleep”—they are unconscious, unable to know anything:
John 11:11-14  These things He said, and after that He said to them, "Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up." Then His disciples said, "Lord, if he sleeps he will get well." However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead.

3. People who are dead cannot praise the Lord:
Psalm 115:17  The dead do not praise the LORD, Nor any who go down into silence.

4. Righteous people will see the Lord at the resurrection when Jesus Come:
1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

5. The wicked people will not rise from their graves until 1000 years later; they will rise to be condemned, and will die in the lake of fire:
Revelation 20:4-6 [Those who rise in the first resurrection—when Christ comes the second time] “… lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
(The “rest of the dead,” mentioned here, are those who were not righteous—they won’t be raised in the resurrection of life when Jesus comes the second time.)

6. The people who are raised in the second resurrection will join with Gog and Magog in their assault of God’s city. Then the fire of God will rain down on them, and it will devour—destroy—them all:
Revelation 20:7-9: Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.

I think You can see, from these Bible verses (there are many more that agree with them) that when people die, they will have no more opportunity to make a choice to believe in Jesus as their Savior. So it’s obvious, then, that we must make that decision here and now, while we’re still alive—for we know not when we’ll die.

So, I appeal to You, to decide to live for Christ right now, while there is time. You’ll never be sorry. If the Son of God was willing to give up His throne over the whole universe, become a man, suffer and die in the most heinous way that man has ever devised … you’ve got to know that He loves you very much. And if He’s willing to do that for you, then you can trust that He’ll give you a never-ending life in the most beautiful, comfortable, happy place in all the universe.

Read about it in Revelation Rev 21:1-7  Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful." And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

Reading the Bible is so important to the Christian. It would be very difficult to maintain a saving relationship with God without it. And learning about God and His requirements for us would be nearly impossible without some connection with God’s Holy Word.

Actually, if we watch for Him, we’ll find Jesus Christ in almost every passage of the Old and New Testaments. Sometimes He’s known as the Creator (cf. John 1:1-4, 10, 14); sometimes He’s known as “the Angel of the LORD” (Ex. 3:1-14; cf. John 8:56-58); sometimes He’s known as the “servant” (Isa. 52:13-53:12); and sometimes as the Messiah. Often He’s behind the scenes, working through those who live according to His will.

If you have difficulty understanding the Bible, there are many aids available to help you do this, (see list below). But above all, read your Bible for yourself, and pray that God will help you understand it.

Feel free to come back to Bibleinfo.com again with other questions.

Stay close to Jesus.

Thurman C. Petty, Jr.
PettyPress@gmail.com
www.PettyPress.com (43 Bible lessons; 20 Books; more)

Sources of Bible study aids and answers for your questions.
Mail order Bible lessons: Amazing Facts Bible Lessons, PO Box 1058, Roseville, CA 95678
Telephone questions answered: 3ABN 1-800-752-3226 (pastoral dept., ext. 1)
On-line: Bibleinfo.com; Itiswritten.com (Bible studies/Discover Bible Guides)
Television networks: HOPE Channel (Direct TV #368); 3ABN (Dish Network #9710)


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you very much you answered my question quite nicely - I was truely unsure of how many deaths we can experience. Since you were so resourceful with your scriptures I had one more question for you and you will soon see why it is so important to me. Growing up I was EXTREMELY abused sexually, physically and emotionally and have a hard time trusting anyone - including God (As you could understand) I am now 84 days off of drugs and alcohol which is the longest I have gone since I was 12 or 13. I go to AA several times a day and do some bible reading everyday as well as pray to the God of the bible yet when i read the bible I just get scared at God's intense wrath against sinners (in the old testament). But the one place I have managed to feel a LOVING spirit of God is by the things people in the rooms of AA say. Many of them grew up abused spiritually as well (Molested by priests, brow beaten with the bible - my father himself who abused me was molested by his priest) Anyway - because of this, these people are unable to see Jesus as he really is and can only view him through the eyes of their childhood experiences in the way he was presented. SOOOOOOOO my question is this - they worship a spirit of love even though they dont know him by the name of Jesus (even though thats who he really is). Since they dont know him by name but still love him "in Spirit" so to speak - what will happen to them after death. You have to remember these people were seriously abused and neglected and yet managed to quit drug and alcohol habits with God's help - although they dont know which "god" is.

Answer
Dear Peter,

Thank you for your question about people who “worship a spirit of love” and don’t know that it’s Jesus.

Basically, God is the judge, and we don’t know what He would decide. However, 1 John 4:8 says: “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” At the core (I’m speaking in human language), the very essence of God is love. God loves His children more than His own life, in fact, He loves them so much that He died for them—for us. You can be sure that, being loving and merciful, God will save as many people as He can.

But on the converse side, God won’t take any people into Heaven who would be unhappy there. So we’ll just have to leave the final decision up to God. But we can choose to be saved, and if we’ll cooperate with Him, Jesus will save us.

I’m so sorry You had such a difficult time when you were growing up. But, congratulation on your success of being off drugs and alcohol for 84 days! Stay close to Jesus, and He will give you total victory over these things.

These things are overcome by will-power: (don’t miss this) YOU SUPPLY THE WILL—you choose to separate from these body-and-soul-destroying poisons—and JESUS SUPPLIES THE POWER. It’s a cooperative work; a mixture of the human and the divine that brings success—victory.

The Bible was inspired by God; but men of God spoke as the Holy Spirit revealed God’s truth to them. So the Bible is a divine/human book—God’s message written by humans in human language. God saw this as the only way He could adequately reveal Himself to fallen human beings.

Jesus is God, and He came to earth and took upon Himself a human body. He was 100% man, and 100% God—the one and only God-man. Here again, God revealed Himself to man in a way that humans could understand. Jesus was a man—and yet He was God. How this can be, I don’t know. I can imagine that this will be our study forever, in Heaven and the New Earth.

So, in order to find God, and to understand His will for us, we need to, first of all, read/study the Bible, looking for a loving God—even amidst the blood and guts of the Old Testament. And you’ll get to know Jesus—the divine-human Savior of all mankind.

And to know Jesus is the most important thing in life. You see, Jesus is the One who created us in the beginning—He was the Creator:

John 1:1-3, 14  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made…. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus, the only begotten Son (John 3:16), stepped down from His throne in Heaven, and became a baby, born of Mary by the Holy Spirit. He grew up in Nazareth, and when He was about 30, He was baptized by John the Baptist. When He came up out of the water, the voice of God sounded from Heaven announcing that Jesus was God’s Son. At the same time, the Holy Spirit lighted on Him in the form of a dove, anointed Him for His mission to save the human race.

For three-and-a-half years, Jesus went about doing good, teaching people about God, and healing them of their diseases. Wicked men who hated Him, arrested Him, arraigned Him at SEVEN (!) trials, lacerated His back, put a crown of thorns on His head, and nailed Him to a cross, where He died six hours later.

While He hung on the cross, and when He died, He carried the sins of everybody, who ever lived, in His own body (1 Peter 2:24). He died for our sins, and, because of this, He can now give His righteousness to everyone who believes on Him. He rose from the grave on Sunday morning, giving all His followers hope of a resurrection beyond the grave.

While Jesus hung on the cross, two criminals were hanging on crosses beside Him—one on either side. Notice what they said and then what Jesus said:

Luk 23:39-43  Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us." But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong." Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise."

Here was a man being punished for his life of crime, who realized that Jesus was his only hope. He called to Jesus for help—and Jesus promised Him eternal salvation.

It is very important that you and your friends go to the Bible; read the 4 gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Get to know Jesus, and accept Him as your Savior, believing that He will save you from your sins. And He’ll do it.

But how could you stand before God in the judgment and claim Jesus as your Savior if you’ve never read about Him. God will ask you if you had a Bible; and you’d have to say, “yes” because you can get one at any one of a dozen places around town. If you don’t take time to read it, God can’t judge you innocent on account of not being able to know Jesus: you could have known Him, but you refused to take the time to do so.

But, when you’ve gotten to know Jesus, then, when the time comes, you may lie down to sleep the sleep of death, knowing that when you awake, Jesus will be there to draw you up into the air ( 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17), and you’ll go with Him to His eternal kingdom. There you will live with Him in His house—heaven—forever:

Psalm 23:6  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (see also John 14:1-3)

Again, I recommend:
Reading the Bible is absolutely important to the Christian. It would be very difficult to maintain a saving relationship with God without it. And learning about God and His requirements for us would be nearly impossible without some connection with God’s Holy Bible.

Actually, if we watch for Him, we’ll find Jesus Christ in almost every passage of the Old and New Testaments. Sometimes He’s known as the Creator (cf. John 1:1-4, 10, 14); sometimes He’s known as “the Angel of the LORD” (Ex. 3:1-14; cf. John 8:56-58); sometimes He’s known as the “servant” (Isa. 52:13-53:12); and sometimes as the Messiah (John 4:25, 26). Often He’s behind the scenes, working through those who live according to His will.

If you have difficulty understanding the Bible, there are many aids available to help you do this, (see list below). But above all, read your Bible for yourself, and pray that God will help you understand it.

Stay close to Jesus.

Thurman C. Petty, Jr.
PettyPress@gmail.com (Feel free to send your questions to me directly if you so desire.)
www.PettyPress.com (43 Bible lessons; 20 Books; more)

Sources of Bible study aids and answers for your questions.
Mail order Bible lessons: Amazing Facts Bible Lessons, PO Box 1058, Roseville, CA 95678
Telephone questions answered: 3ABN 1-800-752-3226 (pastoral dept., ext. 1)
On-line: Bibleinfo.com; Itiswritten.com (Bible studies/Discover Bible Guides)
Television networks: HOPE Channel (Direct TV #368); 3ABN (Dish Network #9710)

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Thurman C. Petty, Jr.

Expertise

I`ve been a Pastor and Bible teacher for 40 years.

Experience

I`m a writer--author of 18 Bible-based books and over 200 journal articles. Web site: www.PettyPress.com where a lot of my books and writings are posted. I've been married to the same lovely lady for 55 years. We're more in love now than when we married. My wife and I were missionaries to Pitcairn Island, in the South Pacific, from 1982-1984.

Organizations
I've been a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church since the age of 9.

Publications
Books: Pacific Press Publishing Association; PettyPress. Number of titles published: 16. Journal Articles: Adventist Review; Signs of the Times; Guide Magazine; Ministry: A Journal for Clergy; Sabbath School Leadership; The Youth's Instructor; Student Movement; Cord, and others. Total Journal articles: over 200. Web Site: www.PettyPress.com. Contents: 18 of my books; 41 Bible study guides; over 30 sermons; Stories; poems; links to other sites, etc. E-mail address: PettyPress@gmail.com

Education/Credentials
I have a BA and a Master`s degree--both degrees are in Biblical studies.

Awards and Honors
I was awarded the "Golden Cord" from my Alma Mater, Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, for my foreign mission service.

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