Pastor I am confused. Is the Rapture the second coming? and, is the Rapture in the Bible?
First: The 'Rapture' (word itself) is not in the Bible. The word is taken from the Greek word to mean, 'Snatched up' (a,HPAG-AIS-OMETHA) (Harpozo) Paul declares that we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them (the dead who are raised (V17). It is clear that a transformation of the living will happen when Jesus comes for his bride (The Church). Paul also in I Corinthians 15: 51-53 speaks of the nature of the resurrection and the body after its great transformation. Again Paul mentions a trumpet, a resurrection whereby we shall be 'changed' in a moment in the twinkling of an eye - this transformation will be so quick that those who are both unsaved and saved will not know when it happened. Secondly: the 'caught up' event better known as Rapture from the Latin Vulgate translation, is not the second coming. This event (the being caught up with Christ in the air) is for believers only and only they shall see Christ appear. Only after Christ has raised the dead who died in him and brought with them the living who believe (caught up event), will the world begin a seven year period of trials leading to a 3 and one half year period of great tribulation. At the end of the seven years the antichrist will wage war on Israel and try for the last time to destroy her - just before this happens Christ will appear for all to see (second coming) and rescue Israel from destruction. The -catching up event- and the Second coming are often confused. Jesus will come to earth a second time at the end of the seven years of trials, he will not come to earth when he brings his bride and saints (both alive and dead) to be with him for the marriage feast of the Lamb. The First Resurrection of the Just and the Rapture are one event. Think about this as you read II Thess and Revelation. The real question is not will we be caught up with Christ - we will, the discussion among believers is WHEN in the end times time-line will this happen? There is honest disagreement here. No one should be too sure they have it 100% right. but we must do our best to try to understand these things as best we can since ignorance of these matters is as dangerous as claiming to understand it all perfectly. We will gain understanding as the events unfold - God will reveal to us (His Church) and many in the Church around the world what we will need to know. They key is to be watching and keep an open mind to revising your position in line with Biblical truth.
It is important to remember that no one position on Christ's second coming is 100% accurate. I myself tend toward a mid-trib position that believes that Christians may suffer through the first three and one half years of the final tribulation but will not go through the final last 3 and one half years when God pours out His wrath on the earth. It is unnecessary for fellow believers to separate over the matter so long as we believe in the key elements and affirm that Jesus will return, we are seeing prophecy fulfilled today, trials are coming, a world dictator will emerge,and we will experience a change when Jesus calls us to be with him. I am learning new things all the time as God's mystery unfolds. Prophecy is a progressive event and we cannot know how God will bring His will about and all is past. God will be teaching us in the New Heaven and Earth things we could have never figured out while in our sinful bodies. Praised be to God.
Why do Christian have three gods?
Christian's do not worship three god's, we worship One God in three persons called the Trinity. Trinity is just a way to describe what the Bible teaches as for example I John 5: 6-12 where John teaches the witness of the three (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Although the word 'trinity' is not in the Bible, it is used to describe the relationship between the members of the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) all God and all in perfect harmony in the work of salvation. At Jesus' Baptism the author of Matthews Gospel, the presence of God, and the Holy Spirit (symbolized by a dove, were present at Jesus' baptism (Matt 3: 13-17) At the end of the Gospel 28: 16-20 we again find mention of the relationship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in relationship to Baptism. Some say this passage is not original and may have been added, in any case it may point to the fact that the early Christian church had some understanding of the relational aspects of the Messiah Jesus to the Father (God). Jesus also gave the promise Holy Spirit to his disciples before leaving to go back to heaven (John 16: 6-15). Jesus makes it clear that the Holy Spirit is himself, by breathing on them even thought he speaks of the Holy Spirit as 'He'. Nevertheless, the 'He' in John is descriptive of the Holy Spirit as a person and not some force or vague inner power - The Holy Spirit is personal and relational. Relational is the key in understanding the meaning of the Tri-unity of God. All persons in the Godhead are eternal (without beginning nor end, and all are equally God) Therefore we worship a God who is in perfect relationship with himself and is without need of anything humankind can offer Him. This relationship is an example of the way God intends His people, the Church, to act and relate. In this relationship of the Godhead we therefore have the Father (Creator and sovereign), the Son (Jesus Christ Messiah and redeemer for sins), and the Holy Spirit (Confronter and guide into all truth). It is clear that we worship One God in three persons, not three gods.
Can I loose my Salvation?
Some in the Christian church believe you can fall from grace and loose your salvation. Another part of the Christian church (Calvinism) holds that once you are saved you are always saved. This is my position. Christ's work of salvation is powerful enough to hold all he calls and saves (John CHAPTER 14)
All those God has given to Christ will be harvested and not one shall be lost. This does not mean that saved people cannot sin or fall away for a time - they can and we do. There are also those who may appear to be saved and then fall away - perhaps they were never saved? The point here is that Christ must be able to preserve his elect or we might assume his salvific power (ability to save and save to the end) is not all that powerful. I believe believers can doubt and question their salvation and even fall away for a time into great sin, but they are preserved to the end and will return. The Westminster Confession of Faith brings this point out with scriptural references in great clarity. You might go into a website such as Reformed Theology. com to read the Westminster Confession yourself it has been a blessing to me when I have wondered over this very issue (See Westminster Confession of Faith chapter 14, 15, 17) as a good start.
Will Children and unborn go to heaven?
This is a serious question and cannot be answered lightly nor in the space provided. I will consider it nevertheless in this fashion. First: As Biblical Christians we hold that we are justified by faith alone through the blood of Christ alone. Second: We hold that there is no 'after death' salvation (purgatory or Limbo, as such are not found in the Bible). Yet, we believe that God is loving and merciful and will do what is right - therefore children are in God's ultimate care for their eternal destiny. The Bible is silent on this issue, so it is not fit to make any official claims or doctrines regarding the eternal state of children and the unborn. Nevertheless, we hold that even children are born in initial sin (Adam's sin) and are therefore held in judgment for this sin. They are not, however, engaged in 'actual sin' by acting out their sin and this may indicate that God will consider this in the council of His will. It may be that children and unborn will be given a chance to accept Christ at the moment of death (not after death), for God can speak to the soul of the unborn and child. This mili-second may be enough to get a response from the one dying to either accept the Savior or not. It is the soul, not the infant or unborn physical body that is being contacted - so we do not want to envision little infants talking - it is soul language which God can understand alone (this is my theory not official theology however). In the end even the unborn and child must receive Christ in some way to be saved. I do not hold personally that all unborn and children go to heaven because they are unborn and children - this is sentimentalism and cannot dictate possible reality. When Jesus was gathered with children he warned some not to hinder those who 'believe' in him,even children can have faith but at what age - we do not know for sure. In the end you must struggle with this issue yourself. There are many ideas around this subject including the Elect-infant theory, the Evangelization after death theory, and more. This is one subject that needs TLC but again, it is unwise to boldly claim that all or none go to heaven - we do not know for sure how God will deal with this situation - but the Judge of all Shall do what is Just and right.
Is the God of Islam the God of Christians ?
It may seem that the God of Islam is the God of Christians simply because the religion of Islam claims so. They claim to uphold the same God as the Jews and the Christians, only they claim to have pure understanding of this God which Jews and Christians do not. Since their prophet (Mohammad) is the last word and prophet - his word is the final authority in matters such as this. I do not believe that then God of Islam is the same God of the Jews and Christians. I further do not hold this because of the Claims of Christ Jesus who is the Only Son of God. Islam claims in it's holy writ that God has no Son and Christ Jesus did not die on the cross for sins nor did he rise the third day. If God is the same for Christians and Islamic peoples we have a problem. God is telling Islam one thing and the rest another. This is a question of truth in reality. Since God cannot lie and since the Islamic holy writ disclaims what the New Testament claims - one or both must be wrong - but they cannot both be right. History has indicated that the New Testament has greater credibility than Islamic writ and can be evidenced through prophecy being fulfilled (regarding Messiah Jesus) and archeology which has proven the accuracy of the Old and New Testaments in many ways. This alone would cast doubt on the accuracy of the Islamic claims and make one wonder if God did indeed reveal himself as the One True God to Islam's prophet. I tend to believe that the God of Jewish-Christian faith is the One true God - Islam may have partial truth regarding this One God, but may be wrong regarding His revelation in Jesus Christ the Messiah and Savior. Because of these blatant contradiction between Islam and Christianity in particular, I would find it hard to say the same God revealed himself in sheer contradiction to both. I conclude that the God of Jesus Christ the Messiah and Jew is the One true and only God. You must struggle with this and do your study - many simply assume all religions are equal in their claims when they may not be. Some conclude that no religion is ultimately true (relativism), as Christians we hold that truth exists and those who seek it will find it.
Why are So Many Churches using the word's 'inclusive' and 'diversity' so much theses days?
There does seem to be a great deal of use of these terms. It is the cultural impact on many churches that have caused many to interpret terms such as diversity and inclusive as theological pointers to a specific stance today. Inclusive has come to mean acceptance of most everything and anything in order to be seen by the larger culture as in step with the values of today. Inclusive is good, but one must ask of what the church is or should be inclusive of and what not. Even those who claim to be inclusive are exclusive of the ideals of the exclusive positions. Inclusive and diversity are in and of themselves not bad concepts, but they have been used and abused beyond recognition. Conservative versus liberal is the real issue here. The key to this cultural war is to remember that both positions are intrinsically exclusive. Those who include one thing exclude another - the liberals believe they are inclusive, but they are excluding various orthodox beliefs. People like Marcus Borg who do not believe in the divine nature of Jesus Christ have excluded the orthodox view of Jesus. They fail to see their own exclusivity. Lets face it, we are all exclusive in things - its just the way things are. Diversity and tolerance are big in the church as well. But, the problem is this ... tolerance does not equal acceptance as many think. If I accept something I need not tolerate it. Tolerance means to bear with even when you do not agree. Even those who claim open tolerance of all things are not being honest with themselves for they are not tolerant of views that go against their own. They would not agree with some things and would see some views as wrong (thus they would see being intolerant as wrong). They need to wake up to their own intolerance. Jesus is the most tolerant and inclusive of all. His offer of salvation is to everyone who would accept it - he excludes no one!! If they reject it, it is their choice and all choices have consequences. Jesus had 12 disciples and spoke to them regarding the Kingdom of God in ways he did not speak to the larger crowds (In Parables). Jesus was exclusive in many ways as he would not enter into the home of Jarius to heal his daughter (He was a non-Jew) and Jesus was a Jew who kept various practices as common among Jews. Keep your focus on Jesus the only model of true truth and true diversity. Be sure to make it clear what you mean by inclusive and diverse - they are helpful terms when used properly and in context. See I John 4: 1-6 and 5: 1-12.
Did Jesus get married and have children?
No. This is the myth of the DiVinci Code. There is no evidence that Jesus was married nor that he had children. The book the DiVinci code is fiction no matter what the author wants to think. Unfortunately many uninformed Christians believe some of it's claims because they do not read their Bibles. Jesus said that in the end days many false teachers would arise - we are there. I suggest you keep your attention on the real Jesus Christ of Scripture and let the slew of New Age and Gnostic-mania literature take a back seat. You must walk with Jesus and know him as he is presented in the gospels. Nothing can come near the testimony of Scripture as the authentic witness to the historical reality of the person, work, death, and resurrection of the Great and only Savior Jesus Christ. Again Test the spirits (I John 4: 1-6)
Why Does the Bible use Oil so much as a Symbol ?
Oil is used for healing and prevention apart from many other things. The 23rd Psalm says, "He anoints my head with Oil'. This may come from the practice among shepherds of putting oil on the sheep's head to prevent flies from laying eggs on the head of the little critter. Fly eggs could cause much discomfort and oil distracted them from bothering the sheep - it also healed the wounds caused by infestations. Oil is symbolic oil healing - as well as anointing as when Aaron was anointed and the Priests before entering into service to God. The idea was to prevent 'sin' and corruption as symbolized in 'fly eggs' - the symbolism of a fly is that of evil or demonic presence. Oil heals and prepares one for divine service. In other forms Oil is symbolic of abundance and joy (Isaiah 61:3 and of healing Hebrews 1:19 and James 5: 14). Oil is good both as a real cure to illness and as a symbolic gesture of God's presence and love.
Is Christianity a Religion? I was told it is.
Yes and no. From a secular point of view it is seen as one of the Great Religions of the world. This thinking follows the secular view regarding the Bible as merely literature and not Divine Revelation. From this worldview (secular) it is considered a religion among others. From a 'Christian worldview' it is a relationship with the Living God and the living Lord Jesus Christ. Religions may be defined as man's seeking god, whereas a relationship with Jesus Christ is God seeking man. Unlike any other 'religion' the faith of Christians in Jesus Christ Messiah is unique because in Christ God became flesh and entered humanity. Jesus also made unique claims about himself that no other 'religious' leader or teacher ever made. He claimed to be God in flesh, to heal and raise the dead, to be Messiah and Only Savior of all humankind and to rise from the dead bodily and return to earth bodily (which all of these he did). An empty tomb remains as a sign of his promises and no one has been able to prove his claims false by producing the dead body or remains. Also prophecy is proof of the authenticity of the Scriptures which proclaim the Coming of Jesus Christ as well as his second advent. The Bible has God's stamp all over it and this means that it does not matter if one sees it as merely literature - it proves itself all the time for what it really is - Divine revelation. These reasons and many more are why one cannot consider Jesus Christ a mere religious figure as many others. Institutional Christianity may have its flaws (indeed many), and may come across as a 'religion', but the living Jesus many follow within this institution is not bound by religion - he is a living reality. Being a follower of Jesus Christ (A Christ-ian) is a relationship not a religious ritual. He lives!
Can One Doubt and Be a Believer?
Yes, one can have doubts about things pertaining to Christian Faith. Today, however, many churches and clergy have made doubt a dogma - to doubt is the sign of a truly thinking faith or individual. This may be overdone at times. In reality Doubt should lead to questions and questions to some answers. Doubt may be seen, when out of proportion, as denial in disguise ... psychologically it may be a fear to accept answers and truth when one encounters them. Doubt may sustain our fear of answers or cause a 'it's too good to be true' mentality to reign over faith. The Bible says in Hebrews chapter 11 that those who seek God must believe God exists - for it is impossible to please God without faith. Faith and Doubt have their role to play in an authentic faith-journey. The emphasis on having questions but not seeking absolute answers to SOME things is cowardly and deflective - it fears truth and it deflects answers so that the individual never has to take a stand on anything that threatens their autonomy. Doubt can become a defense mechanism which insulates the individual from coming to terms with themselves and the truth of themselves in the face of God. Doubt has its purpose - we all have doubts and all have questions - but we need not glorify skepticism to be rational thinking people. True rational and thinking people go with the answer when it is found. If we operated with this notion of doubt unending and unending questions in many other domains of knowledge such as science and medicine we would never have progressed in these areas. Do you want your wife or husband to live in perpetual doubt over your love for this one? Or do you want your banker to have doubts about what you claim is in your saving account or checking all the time? Do you live in doubt that you will see the sunrise and a new day (God willing) -will you live with doubt over your demise and death (it is 100% certain you know) point is, even if you do have doubts in all these areas, the sun will rise, gravity will continue to operate, and life will go on without you. Healthy doubt leads to sincere questions and possibly some answers - unhealthy doubt leads to more skepticism and is often a cover for unbelief. Jesus said seek and you will find, knock and the door will be open. True faith has as it's goal the prize (the peal of great price, the sower who sowed good seed, the light that shines, and the truth, the way, and the life who is Jesus Christ!!! Praise God we can know some things for certain -
I Have just read the Phoenix Affirmation, have you? and what do you think?
Yes I have read it. You might read the question regarding 'progressive Christianity' on this site. Again it is unfortunate but such an affirmation is really a de-constructing of Historic and Biblical Faith in Christ Jesus. It blends the old liberation theology of the sixties and Universalism of the present with a added dose of seeming evangelicalism. I do not buy it. In truth it is a re-definition of Christian faith based on the OLD universalism trying to put on a new face. In the end it still denies Christ Jesus as the unique Savior, says nothing about the need for Salvation and the Cross (Atonement), and while it claims to love the Bible, it has this need to re-invent it and re-interpret it to fit its agenda. In reality this affirmation is so typical of the need to re-make what needs no re-making. In trying to be all-inclusive it says nothing, affirms nothing, is vague and generic, and lacks real integrity. It is the old universalism in new clothes - but a Bible based believer sees through all the twists and turns in its language for what it really is - denial of truth. It is soo inclusive it excludes Christ from his rightful position as Lord of All. Unfortunately many churches are buying it. The master mind behind it is a UCC minister living in Phoenix - the group Cross Walk America feels the need to re-invent Christian faith to make it more acceptable to our culture. In so doing, it has sold out to the culture and allowed Scripture to take a back seat to the prevailing attitudes and beliefs of the culture. Sadly this is the trend in many churches that are departing from true Historic and Apostolic Christian Faith while holding the need (for some reason) to pass all this off as 'Christian'. No matter how many times they tag this stuff 'Christian' it is seriously lacking - it is based on the teachings of Christ (Love and Love and More love with Justice of course) but rejects the Person of Christ as redeemer and Savior. It's not new ,,, there is no need to fix what was never broken ... updating our presentation of Christian faith is a good thing ... having to change the core essentials as taught clearly in Scripture is another thing. We can present the Gospel in creative ways because it is always relevant - the Phoenix Affirmation is a sell out to the Old Unitarian and Universalism - nothing new.
Pastor do you Think our Nation has become immoral ?
I think we have become more amoral if not moral-neutral. In our non-obsolute oriented culture where truth does not exists as a universal reality, it is easy to see how the collapse of morals will follow. The increase in crime, divorce, and many other areas of human behavior seem to indicate a belief among many that if there is no real right or wrong, we have nothing to account for and no one to give an account to. It is no wonder young people today feel little remorse for crimes and even murder. They have been taught that they evolved from a lower life form and God is not necessary to explain anything. If no God, no morals and no accounting. Our schools also teach a form of cultural relativism called 'Values Clarification' kids are told there is no right or wrong answers; it is up to them to decide. They are given no guidelines for such choices - far from neutral, Value Clarification is very intentional in its values (which they feel are right by the way) and want others to share their position. Their values are 'Relativism' and 'Naturalism' and they mean to teach them guised in the form of 'neutrality'. The rise in depression among children is also symptomatic of our age ... empty of any true value or lasting meaning in life our children drift into despair and even suicide. We should not wonder when schools are plagued with drugs, killings, violence, and disregard for life in general. We have created the platform for this to happen by removing God through the politically correct fundamentalists of our day. Yes, we have a major collapse of values and morals today and it will chip away at any country that forsakes God for humanistic values without God.
Are we Still Under the Old Testament Laws?
We are still required to obey some Old Testament laws such as the 10 commandments and others. We are not judged by the Law but fulfill as best we can the law because we love God and want to serve God. We are justified by faith in Christ Jesus, but this does not mean we can go out a use God's name in a bad way (one of the big 10), or kill ... etc. God has written the law in our hearts (a new covenant) and it is to be obeyed through those who have experienced grace and salvation (justification). The difference is that the Law shows forth our sin and inability to fulfill it perfectly - it is a curse to those who are not found in God's Grace and salvation through Christ. For those who have faith in Christ Jesus, the law is something we want to obey because we are saved, but our failure to be perfect in the law or under it, is not the criterion by which God justifies us now. Some Old Testament laws are no longer necessary - we cannot deny that all 10 commandments are still in force for both Jews and Christians. Same law different means of understanding them. One written in stone - one in the heart. Jesus said if you love me you will obey my commandments. At the end of the law if grace rather than judgment. We will be held accountable before Christ for our behaviors (Good and Bad) but will not be judged guilty unto Hell because we have trusted in his perfect sacrifice on our behalf. Jesus will judge his own but will never cast them off. Paul saw the law as a curse without Christ because we could not hope to fulfill it due to our sin nature. With Christ who is the fulfillment of the entire law, we are free to obey it without condemnation - he has fulfilled it for us, we must strive to live it as best we can through his help. Jesus also said to love God with all our hearts, soul, body and mind and our neighbor as self is the whole law. The law such as the 10 commandments are there for a reason - moral and ethical reasons which act as restraints for both saved and unsaved. They keep order in our society and are reasonable for all people to obey. Sadly, we are doing away with them in the public eye ... the consequences will be overwhelming to the well-being of this and other nations and peoples.
Should Churches promote Social Justice Issues ?
The church has a duty to do Justice and promote peace - but in a way that does not ignore the primary goal and calling of preaching the Gospel of redemption. The problem with some churches is that they have done great in social justice realms but have forgotten the message of redemption. In the sixties the church swung to the left in it's theology (liberation theology) which placed an emphasis on social justice and, in a sense, social salvation. While it is true we can salvage social contexts for Christ and must seek to transform our and others social conditions for the better, this is a chance to lead others to know the transforming salvation offered in Christ Jesus alone. We must feed a hungry person first or they cannot hear the gospel - on an empty stomach. Unfotunately, the liberation theologians also displaced the foci of the True message of salvation iin Christ as an individual matter. A person must accept Jesus as Lord and Savior - not groups or societies. Many churches also rejected the Bible as inspired and authoritative and found that they had no message to preach any longer -many have replaced the meaning of atonement for 'self-sacrifice' as opposed to Jesus' vicarious atonement done for us (Substitutionary). but they could not allow the church to fade into the background even though they no longer held to orthodox doctrines as taught clearly in the Bible. They transformed the message of salvation into social terms - everything became translated through the lens of the 'social'. Now they had a new message and a new reason to justify the church's presence on earth. Today we continue to see the emphasis on social justice as opposed to the preaching of the gospel of salvation to lost sinners. Many churches preach political sermons over salvation sermons. We should have a strong social justice outreach in our churches - Jesus wants us to heal our communities and lives - but to believe that we can do away with poverty, injustice, hunger, etc - social ills of all kinds, is not realistic. Jesus said, "The poor you will have with you always, so do good to them while you can (have a chance)". Jesus never promised social ills would go away just because we organized for peace and justice. He did say to do good while we have opportunity. The church must do justice and seek to eleviate pain and a host of social ills - but it must never forget that the goal of all we do is to lead others to the One who heals the sin sick heart - Jesus Messiah only Savior of mankind. Lets get the foci back in our churches - our salvation motivates us to do good for and to others - works justification will not save you - we are saved and justified by Faith alone through Christ Alone. Our social concerns stem from our redemption - we do justice and peace for the glory of Christ Jesus - not ourselves.
Is Hell Eternal or Are the Wicked Destroyed?
There is much credible debate over the question of Hell and the state of those who will be there. Some believe that the wicked after being judged, will be consumed never to exist again. This belief is called nihilism (extinction). They will not be eternally conscious of their ever having existed. Their punishment will be conscious but brief and not forever. In some ways this doctrine is merciful, but is it biblical. There are good reasons for holding this view and many do have biblical backing for it. Yet, we have to do a complete study of the matter before we can draw the best conclusion possible offered in scripture. Almost all the teachings of hell comes from Jesus himself. Hell is one of the most difficult of beliefs from Christ to hold even among the more faithful followers. Yet, Jesus teaches it. The descriptions of hell are many: Lake of fire, eternal separation from God, utter darkness, etc - these are symbolic description but they do not lessen the seriousness of the reality of hell itself. The function of symbols is to point to a reality beyond the symbol; a reality that may be even more grave than the symbol. It is the 'eternity' of hell that causes the greatest fear. The Bible clearly states that hell is eternal - both eternal death and eternal hell are used together. Mere annihilation, involves no real punishment since the individual is mercifully put out of existence - they never knew nor never will know their end and the consequences for rejecting God and Jesus Christ. Anyone wanting to just cease existing will have comfort in this doctrine - but hell as taught by Jesus is conscious and forever. Hell is a place and there is no escape through either repentance nor annihilation. Perhaps the most fearful image of hell Jesus used was in his parable of The rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). While Jesus is using symbols to describe the anguish of Hell - they are nevertheless pointing to the real pain of being eternally separated from God's grace and love. A great Chasm or divide as the parable states, is between us and it is fixed - no turning around, forever. The Rich man is described as a conscious soul aware of the wrongs he has done - the fact that Jesus states that, 'even if one from the dead goes to them' (to warn the Rich Man's five brothers) of his fate, they will not believe. Jesus apparently held a belief in the conscious state after death of both the wicked and the righteous in Christ/God. We should not sepculate on the exact nature of hell - but avoid it by accepting Jesus' invitation to the eternal joy of being with him. In the New Heaven and Earth, we will not be conscious of those who are not there - the joy of being in Christ's presence will satisfy all our needs. We will not know of those who did not choose to be with him, nor will they know of us. God would not allow us to be unhappy with Him forever. God's glory will be our only focus when we will occupy the new heaven and earth at the end of the Millennial reign. Praise God for His love for them that are wise enough to seek and find it. Just as heaven is a choice, so is hell so that God is just in His judgments concerning the eternal destiny of those who must choose either way.
Does Purgatory exist?
No. There is no Biblical basis for an 'in between' state of the dead. Neither Purgatory nor Limbo are found taught in Scripture and therefore hold no authority over the Christian as a belief to be embraced. The Book of Hebrews states clearly: "And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment" makes it clear that there is no hope of turning your eternal state around after death. The choice you make for or against Christ Jesus takes place now in this life only. Miss it, you will have to deal with the eternal consequences.
Will Those who Kill themselves be lost forever?
Suicide is wrong, yet even Christians reach a point in their lives where the pain is too great and ending their lives seems the only alternative. While a believer will be judged by their savior for taking their own life - I do not believe they can jeopardize their salvation. We will all be accountable for our sins we have done only to Christ as his own. Believers answer to Jesus at the Judgment before the Bema Seat. Unbelievers answer at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20: 11-15). There are different rewards for believers in Messiah and loss of rewards as well. It might be that those who take their own lives will be at risk of losing their rewards - but they can never lose their salvation. As Christians we must be compassionate to those who feel their lives are too difficult to go on - we may ourselves reach a point like that in our lives. Suicide is a reality even for people of faith. We should also listen and try to help people who are thinking of suicide and help them to find help. But when all help fails, we must trust that Jesus will love them no less even though he must judge them for their act. In the presence of our Lord they will find rest from the problems they and we face in life. Our pain will not be forever and as Revelation states: " ... and God Himself will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning no crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." (Rev. 21:4).
Will America Be around During The End Times ?
There are many people who ask this question and many responses to it. I believe that America is not mentioned in Prophecy directly. But this does not mean that it will not be affected in the end. Many nations or the terms all peoples and nations or the whole earth could include America. Surely America will be touched by the events of the End Times. America may not be America any longer. It may be overcome with the advent of the New World Order or Global Government (Already under way and at work here). Those nations closest to the epicenter of the Antichrist will suffer more than those further from it. Yes, America is going to undergo changes. Perhaps the rise of a Police-State to manage people and keep an eye on our every activity - this may be pawned off as safety measures against terrorist acts and threats but in reality be control for the sake of power by the rising state that will usurp more our our rights and freedoms. The economic changes will be in play since globalism must be just that ... global. One thing is for sure, America will become part of a Globalist Government and its religious attitudes will merge with a One World Religious or Monistic movement. Christians who hold to the unique person of Jesus Christ and the authority of his person as the Only way to salvation will indeed not be tolerated. The apostate Church will do well since it poses no real threat to the now emerging New Tolerance and its denial of the Unique status of Jesus and the exclusive claims he made regarding himself and the way of salvation. The point is this - be prepared and arm yourself with faith and the Word of God. It is my opinion that the true Church will be forced to go underground as more and more people become intolerant of our claims about Jesus Messiah. This is a sign that already a One World Religion is coming. Environmentalism and the sham of Global Warming have already been promoted as 'spiritual' - in order to unite all in a common cause to save 'mother earth'. This is a form of earth worship. There is No Mother Earth only Creator God. Yet, such programs (Agenda 21, Earth Summit, Rio Declaration, Sustainability, etc) have a common goal - to unite in order to control. Be watching all these shifts in attitude and thinking these days - they are warnings. They sound good and compassionate but their end is the opposite. America will be consumed in the global trends more and more as officials and government shift from free and open society to the eradication of Constitutional rights bit by bit. Fabian Socialism at work already around the globe. The doctrine of Fabianism is The Inevitability of Gradualism - little bit at a time until you wake up one day and realize that everything has changed because they have gradually build a system right before your eyes without you having recognized it. This was the tactic of Fabius Maximus the Roman general who won against his enemies by wearing them down with constant mini attacks. The program is already in use both here and across the globe. Changes have already come and more are yet to come. Jesus says - watch.
What is The New World Order - I hear a lot about this
The Book of Daniel predicts a coming fourth kingdom on earth. The rise of a global leader and a One World Government - the Book of Revelation adds detail to this coming system as well. The nature of this coming Kingdom is opposed to Jesus Christ and will seek to unite all nations under one common goal and purpose. All religions will be brought together under a common theme and all people will undergo a transformation in how they live. buy. sell, and think. The new world will be highly critical of anyone who resists the New Tolerance toward the new values they insist upon and hoist on people through false legislations. The reach of this final world kingdom will not be as powerful in some lands as in others ... but the effects will be felt everywhere. The grasp of power by a few and then by one leader is the goal as spoken of in Daniel, by Jesus, and in the Book of Revelation (Chap 13-14). The NWO will come slowly and through a series of events will implement its goals through legal and political actions which claim one thing but are, in reality, self-serving. I could go on ... but in truth what we see happening today may be the foundations of this coming kingdom of which Christ warned of. Perhaps this foundation is being paved already and many are not aware of it because it is happening slowly until the new ways of thinking and being are normalized. How this will develop we are not certain but we do know that the end is not good. Talk of peace, harmony, love and Universal brotherhood as well as spirituality all sound good, but in truth they are not in concert with the Bible or the teachings of Jesus Christ. Is the NWO the final stage? Maybe, but this is what is important, Jesus said to watch and be wise to discern the times. As Christians we must be wise these days so as not to be misled as so many will be even those in the churches. Keep a sharp eye on world events and read the Bible with the Holy Spirits aid so that you may be granted wisdom and be able to discern the times and know what Jesus Messiah expects of you.
There is much literature available today on the NWO both in print and On-Line. But be cautious - not all information is accurate or legitimate - use sense and talk with someone who has done research into this matter for direction.