Sunday, October 07, 2007

Because of Faith, Destiny is Fixed

Last Sunday, I shared a post entitled, One of Life's Greatest Questions. It was about Dr. David Jeremiah's sermon that week. I sincerely hope that each visitor to Talk Wisdom took the time to view and listen to that video sermon. It was one of the best...ever!

When someone we love dies, who doesn't want to know the answer to the following question:

Where Are They Now?

In this sermon, Dr. Jeremiah shared a Bible verse that brought back to my mind a miraculous spiritual experience that I had several years ago. It happened while visiting my dad back in January, 1995. It was 4 1/2 months before his death from lung cancer.

In Luke 16:19-31 Jesus tells the account of the rich man and the beggar. During Dr. Jeremiah's sermon about this account, many of the Bible verses he shared helped clarify how our destiny is fixed because of our faith. The one verse that popped out at me was:

Luke 16:22 - "So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried." (bold mine)

If you had read my previous post about the spiritual encounter during my visit with my sick father, you would have read:

During our discussion, I discovered something about my dad that I never knew before. When my family was attending the Catholic church and my dad stayed home, he would usually watch sports on TV. What I didn't know is that he would often flip through the channels during the commercials and watch Charles Stanley's broadcast! I was certainly thrilled to hear that! It gave me an "in" to share the Bible with him.

I refered to the Scriptures I had highlighted in the booklets and shared the verses that would lead into sharing the gospel with my dad. Sometimes he would tire easily and ask me to stop. This went on for about 3 days. On that third day, I presented the gospel message to him and asked if he would like to repent and ask Jesus into his heart for the salvation of his soul. HE SAID YES!! My mom was nearby sitting on a chair and we all prayed together! I was so thrilled that my dad, in what was close to the 11th hour of his life, made the eternal decision for Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior! Praise God!

We continued with our Bible studies until it was time for me to fly home.

One afternoon, an unusual thing happened. I often hesitate to share this because people often do not react well to it and/or they claim that my dad was "doped up" and didn't know what he was saying. This is what happened.

We had just finished our Bible study and my mom was in the kitchen getting lunch ready. My dad said, "Alright Joe." I said, "What dad?" My dad said, "I was talking to Joe." I said, "Joe? Who and where is Joe?" My dad said, "He's right over there," as he pointed to the empty chair where my mom usually sits. I looked at the empty chair, then I looked at my dad. He seemed to be listening intently as he stared at the chair. There was a moment of silence and then my dad said, "Oh." I said, "What dad?" He said, "He says you can't see him." I was flabbergasted! Something like this had never happened to me before.

My mom entered the room and we had lunch. Later, I asked my mom if dad knows a "Joe." She told me that he was best buddies with a guy he knew while serving in Japan in World War II. His name was "Joe." Joe died while in the service.

I have often wondered if my dad had been visited by an angel who appeared before him looking like his friend Joe. I know I can't prove anything and I'm not trying to convince anyone here, but this incident has stuck in my mind and will never leave.

When I was flying back home, I realized that I probably would never see my dad alive again. The sorrow of that fact led to tears which were replaced by joy when my thoughts came to the great realization that I would one day see him again in eternity!

A wonderful thing happened soon after my visit. My dad improved a lot and was able to get out of bed and into a wheelchair. He had two last wishes. He wanted to take a ride in one of his antique convertible cars and sit in his favorite chair in the living room. He did both and much more in the month of March!

I saw this as a reprieve, sent by God!

If you had seen how bad my dad looked when I visited him in January, you would never have believed that he would have lived another 4 1/2 months!

My dad died on May 30, 1995 at around 9 a.m. in the morning.

My entire family went back for the funeral. I was asked to speak at the podium during the funeral. I will share that account next time. It was another incident where the Holy Spirit helped me so tremendously that it is one of times in my life where my faith became steadfast and solidified. I know that the Lord is real and He is with matter WHAT happens in life.
I truly believe that experiences such as these are gifts from God designed to increase our faith. It was in the midst of my father's impending death that I was given this gift. At the same time, my father was given the gift of reprieve to do the two things that he really wanted to do; despite his bed-ridden condition. Praise God for these gifts because they are even more evidence of His glory!

Dr. Jeremiah's sermon helped solidify the fact that this spiritual experience was biblical.

If you go to the original link about this experience (above), you will also read some comments where other Christian believers had similar experiences about their loved ones. I say similar, because each and every one is completely unique. These experiences speak to the heart, mind, soul and spirit of the individual that it was meant for!

Our God is a God of individual salvation, as well. No two conversion testimonies are ever alike, either! That is why each and every one of us must come to the cross of Christ individually, and answer Jesus' question, "Who do you say that I am?"

In 2 Corinthians 5:1-5, we are told that we will be clothed in a spirit body in Paradise. We will be able to recognize each other, and when Jesus comes back at the time of the resurrection of the dead, we get (as Dr. Jeremiah said in the video) "bodies by Jesus."

The most important thing about eternity is the priority of the presence of Jesus. It isn't so much about the "place," but about Who will be there! Heaven is being with Jesus!

Notice in John 14:3 Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us. Why?

Jhn 14:3 "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also."

Heaven will be a place of residence with Jesus.

Take note of what Jesus told the repentant thief in Luke 23

Luk 23:43 And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."

Paul reiterates this fact in 2 Corinthians 5:8 - We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

In Philippians 1, verse 23:

Phl 1:23 For[fn3] I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.

[Footnote: 1:23 NU-Text and M-Text read But.]

The decision to repent and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior must be done while here on earth. There is no such thing as "purgatory." In fact, Luke 16:26 tells us of the great gulf between the opposite places where Lazarus was taken by the angels and where the rich man ended up:

Luke 16:26 'And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.'

Those are the words of Jesus himself!

It is important to realize that the Pharisees considered wealth to be a proof of a person's righteousness. Jesus startled them with this story where a diseased beggar is rewarded and a rich man is punished.

Remember the account where Jesus mentions that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven?

Mat 19:24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Mar 10:25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Was Jesus against people being rich? No. He said that because many times people who happen to be rich, with most of their basic physical needs met, often become self-reliant. When they feel empty, they could just go and buy something new to dull the pain that was meant to drive them toward God. Their abundance can lead to selfishness, too. It is as if their self-sufficiency becomes their deficiency. This is why Jesus made the "camel through the eye of a needle" analogy. The person who has everything on earth can still lack what is most important - eternal life.

The rich man ended up going to hell. This was not because of his wealth, it was because he was selfish! He refused to feed Lazarus, take him in, or care for him in any way whatsoever. The rich man was hardhearted in spite of his great blessings.

It's not about how much or how little money we have. What is important is the way we use it. Our attitude towards money and possessions make the difference. Do we use them to help others?

Selfishness is a symptom and result of a hardened heart and pride of life. Luke 16:25 illustrates this reality:

Luk 16:25
"But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. (bold mine)

The rich man's next thought was about his five brothers:

Luk 16:27 "Then he said, 'I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house,
Luk 16:28 'for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.'
Luk 16:29 "Abraham said to him, 'They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.'
Luk 16:30 "And he said, 'No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.'
Luk 16:31 "But he said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.'" (bold mine)

Jesus knew that many would reject him. The rich man thought that if someone were raised from the dead, then surely they would believe. But Jesus said that if they did not believe Moses and the prophets, then neither would they be convinced when he (Jesus) was resurrected from the dead.

Today, there are those who are also so set in their ways that neither Scripture nor God's Son himself would shake them loose from their unbelief.

Mat 7:14 Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

The gate that leads to eternal life (see also John 10:7-9) is called "narrow."

This doesn't mean that it is difficult to become a Christian. The gospel message is simple enough that even a child can understand it. However, it is also profound enough to "confound the wise."

There is only one way to God, and only a few that decide to walk that road.

Believing in Jesus is the only way to live eternally with God.


Because He alone died for our sins at the cross of Calvary and thus made us right before God. It is a gift that must be received through faith. To intellectually know about Jesus isn't enough. Through faith, we must believe that Jesus is who he says he is.

Jhn 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

And, when people speak evil of Jesus and his followers, don't be discouraged. Remember this verse:

2Pe 2:2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.


"My knowledge of that life is small, The eye of faith is dim; But 'tis enough that Christ knows all, And I shall be with him." - Richard Baxter


Christinewjc said...

Even though this post A Better Place to Go to Hell From isn't exactly related to my original post here, just the title alone drew me in to read it.

Unlike the author, I did like Evan Almighty. I have always been told I'm an easy laugh, though.

However, most of my laughter was directed at the silly (yet sometimes entertaining) content of the movie whereas, my feelings against the movie were its obvious Biblical inaccuracies. I quickly came to that conclusion because, quite frankly, I have learned not to ever expect anything of Godly or biblical importance out of Hollywood anyway.

Greg Stier makes some really good points. You can go to the article for the details.

1. The movie paints the picture of an eco-obsessed god.

2. This movie sideswipes the seriousness of the original Genesis 6 flood account.

3. The movie itself was not all that funny.

Actually, I got my biggest laugh when the movie showed what Stier mentions here:

"Forget rampant sexual depravity, perversion, hedonism and homosexuality; it was trying to pass a bill in Congress that would allow the development of homes on protected land that brought God’s divine wrath in the politically correct Evan Almighty." (bold mine)

Here's how the author got to the title:

"They asked me what I thought of the evangelicals who were putting a priority on creation care and waging war against global warming. I made it clear that on one hand I strongly believed in stewarding creation and that all human beings have a God-given mandate to take care of this great gift that God has entrusted us with called planet Earth. I then said, “On the other hand, God didn’t put us on this earth just to make it a better place to go to hell from.” They got their sound bite right there."

You know what? That's a great line! It single-handedly points out the fact that what the liberal left side of the Christian spectrum deems is important, have actually skewed the gospel message right out of importance and towards a landslide (forgive the pun?) of error and heresy.

Stier closes with a good truth to remember:

Maybe you really liked Evan Almighty when you watched it. That’s fine. Different strokes for different folks, especially in flood waters. But consider the messages being preached and the picture of God being portrayed in this movie. Measure it by the Biblical description of the true and living God of the Bible and it’s not even close." (bold mine)

That's why it was called Evan almighty. It had nothing to do with God Almighty in the first place; except, maybe, if you're a liberal! ha ha!

Christinewjc said...

If "Citizen" decides to come over here to read this thread:

Just wanted to tell you two things. I have been unable to log in at the Christian Post. I tried many times this morning, and it would not work. Perhaps I have been banned? I don't know.

Anyway, I wanted to share one more thing about my experience with my dad.

This morning, the Holy Spirit brought back to mind another word that my dad said when he referred to "Joe." My dad called him "my buddy Joe." That is more accurately how he answered my question when I asked, "What dad?" He replied, "I was talking to my buddy Joe."

Now, this may seem trivial to anyone who did not know my dad. However, it is an important point when considering this encounter.

My dad typically referred to his fellow air force companions as "buddies." I'm sure it was probably a commonly used terminology within the military in WWII.

It is for that reason that when I asked my mom if dad knows a "Joe," the war buddy conclusion made more sense. I don't recall my dad having a good friend named "Joe" during the years I lived with my parents (or, even thereafter, for that matter!).

The fact that he called him my buddy Joe leads me to believe that he was, in fact, visited by an angel of the Lord and the angel appeared to him in the likeness of his war buddy, Joe. My dad seemed quite comfortable and unafraid while he was listening to "Joe." This indicates a likelihood of familiarity.

Of course, I can't prove anything to you about this. But I wanted to make that clarification anyway.