A BORN-AGAIN BELIEVER

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TOUGH AUDIENCE

Jesus was a brilliant teacher, the best who ever was.

Not only did he fearlessly speak God’s Truth, he delivered it in such a way that it made sense to everyone who heard him, whether they had eyes to see and ears to hear, or not.

This is no mean feat, as any teacher worth his or her salt well knows.

At the same time he was teaching, Jesus was also dodging the verbal and physical assaults of people who disagreed with him or wanted to trip him up.

And then there were his hard-core enemies, who just wanted him dead.

A tough audience, Jesus had. Every day for nearly three years he dealt with these people. But he did it because it was his job, not because he enjoyed the harassment and threats. He also did it because he wanted to get his mission over and done with so he could go Home.

You can always tell the ones God sent from those he didn’t send by how they view their time on Earth. The real prophets (that is, those who speak God’s Truth) are doing everything they can to get Home as fast as they can. The false prophets, on the other hand, are doing everything they can to prolong their time here. They have lots of reasons for wanting to stay in their human bodies, but I have a sneaking suspicion the main one is they don’t want to face God. If you know and love God and he’s shown you Heaven, there’s no way you want to spend even one second longer on Earth than you have to. The instant God gives you the signal, you’re off like a shot! Earth is the place of labouring and suffering. Why, given the choice, would you want to labour and suffer in an imperfect body if you could live leisurely and pain-free in a perfect one?

Pay close attention to how preachers and teachers talk about their future. Listen for whether they want to prolong their days here or are eagerly waiting to go Home. Wanting to stay here as long as possible is a big red flag of a false prophet.

Remember how Jesus willingly chose to go to Jerusalem at the end, knowing he would be crucified? Or how Paul willingly chose to go to Rome, knowing he would be arrested and killed? No matter how hard their friends and followers pleaded with them to stay, they were steadfast in their decision. They knew that death was just a “baptism” to get past in order to get Home. Stephen also famously looked past his tormenters to see God and Jesus waiting for him. That sight was enough for him to forgive his killers. None of these men, being close enough to Heaven to taste their reward, pleaded with God for any more time on Earth.

Jesus had some tough audiences, but he didn’t shy away from them. He also didn’t let them bully him or get the last word in. He schooled them in the only way that mattered: setting the record straight on scriptural interpretation. Our time here is short. We’re now in the same situation as Jesus, Paul, and Stephen were 2000 years ago – labouring to finish the work God’s given us and strengthening ourselves for the final tests, temptations, and battles. Whether you face your last days like the false prophets, doing everything you can to prolong your stay, or like real prophets, eagerly looking forward to going Home, is a decision only you can make.

LEAVING CHRISTIANITY

There are two possible outcomes for people who are genuinely reborn and then choose to betray God by committing the unpardonable sin. Being genuinely reborn means that you live in God’s grace and that you have God’s Holy Spirit with you 24/7, protecting you, guiding you and rewarding you, whether for good or for bad. When you commit the unpardonable sin (which, because it’s different for everyone, is not specifically named in the Bible) – when you commit the unpardonable sin, you grieve the Holy Spirit, as Jesus phrased it. You grieve God’s Holy Spirit, who had taken up residence with you since the moment of your rebirth. When God’s Holy Spirit is grieved, he leaves, or rather you drive him out, because holiness cannot live in the same place as evil.

So when you grieve the Holy Spirit through your fully conscious decision to commit the unpardonable sin, you drive God’s Spirit out. And with him goes all the protection you had throughout the time of your rebirth as well as prior to your conversion, when you were watched over by God’s holy angels. This protection that you had both before your rebirth (from God’s holy angels) and during it (from God’s Holy Spirit) comes crashing to an end, and you are completely at the mercy of beings who have no mercy because they no longer operate in God’s Spirit.

When this occurs, when you’ve committed the unpardonable sin and have driven out the Holy Spirit, there are only two possible outcomes for you from that point onward. These two outcomes are:

  1. Sudden death within a very short time, which is what happened to Judas Iscariot. There is no wiggle room for mercy once you’ve committed the unpardonable sin; there is only damnation and the sure understanding that you brought it on yourself. Again, the unpardonable sin is unique to each one of us, but always results in grieving the Holy Spirit, who then has no choice but to leave because you’ve driven him away.
  2. Last-minute deal with the devil. You can imagine that this deal is not going to be slanted in your favour. You won’t be in any position to bargain, so you’ll essentially have to take whatever the devil offers you. The contract is time-contingent, and when it comes to an end, you’ll again be at the non-mercy of whatever demons are attending on you at that time. Your death with be swift and horrendous, your damnation sure, and throughout it all you’ll know exactly why you ended up as you did.

These are the only two possible outcomes for genuinely reborn Christians who choose to commit the unpardonable sin and grieve God’s Holy Spirit. Remember that God will never leave us unless we want him to, as he’s promised never to leave us or forsake us. We, however, have made no such promise to God, as we can’t make that promise, not with our ongoing state of free will. In other words, we can’t say “I WILL NEVER” and mean it, not as long as we’re still free to choose. That means we remain vulnerable to being tempted into committing the unpardonable sin as long as we’re still in our human body.

Very sobering words, these, and for me truly frightening.

The information I’ve provided above scares the you-know-what out of me. And yet we know that the reward of sin is death, because scripture plainly tells us and shows us. And we know that the reward for the unpardonable sin is the grieving of the Holy Spirit, which then causes him to leave us (because we’ve driven him away), at which point we exist entirely unprotected and are either killed and dispatched to Hell, or end up on the duty roster of Satan. Serving Satan is, however, only a stalling tactic. Everyone who’s rejected God ultimately ends up in the lake of fire after Hell empties out. This outcome is non-negotiable and scriptural, no exceptions.

Most Christians are blissfully unaware of these facts. Some even labour under the lie of “once saved, always saved”, which has no basis in scripture and is in fact directly dismissed by Jesus and Paul as a fallacy. I am genuinely born again from atheism and have been so for 23 years. And yet I, as I’ve written here a few times already, did something really stupid about 7 years into my rebirth that earned me severe punishment from God, and rightly so. But it wasn’t the stupid thing that I did that almost lost me my grace – it was something I later planned to do that I thought was righteous that almost had me condemned. As I was riding along on my bike one day, formulating what I thought was a righteous plan, God literally stopped me in my tracks (I almost went over the handlebars) and let me know that if I did what I was planning to do, I would lose my grace. My understanding at that moment was as clear and as sure as my understanding at the instant of my rebirth. I can remember both scenarios as vividly as if they happened just now, so deeply are they etched in my memory.

Needless to say, and as I’m still here and still operating in God’s grace, I did not do the thing I had previously thought was righteous. I instead backed away from it (ran screaming, actually), like someone with vertigo would back away from the edge of a cliff.

So you see, I know from first-hand experience, as well as from scripture, that ‘once saved, always saved’ is a lie. Oh, it would be nice if everyone who claimed to be a Christian had an automatic ticket to Heaven just by saying they believe in Jesus, but what kind of place would Heaven be if that’s all it took to get there? Because most of the so-called Christians I’ve met in my years on Earth are not people I would want to spend eternity with. “Fine,” one of you out there sniffs, “Heaven is a big place. There’s room enough for everyone, even people you don’t like. You don’t have to spend any of your eternity with them, if you don’t want to. And another thing, Charlotte, you seem to forget that we’re but imperfect beings here; God will make us perfect in Heaven, including washing away all our sins.”

Thanks for your input, but these are clearly lies of the devil. The sin-washing needs to happen while we’re yet in a human body, followed by conversion, and both have to happen BEFORE we get to Heaven. Conversion can’t happen in the afterlife. It may happen after “brain death” or even very shortly (I’m talking milliseconds) after physical death, but it doesn’t happen in the afterlife, once a soul permanently leaves its body.

Paul said that we die once only, and then comes the judgement. The state of our soul at death determines where and how we’ll spend eternity. I don’t make the rules, I just report them, and I know them to be True and Just, because God is True and Just, and these rules come from him.

If you commit the unpardonable sin and grieve the Holy Spirit into leaving, there are only two possible outcomes for you: either swift death followed by damnation, or servitude to the devil, followed by damnation.

If neither of those options appeals to you, I’d strongly suggest not committing the unpardonable sin and grieving God’s Holy Spirit. I’d also strongly suggest doing whatever it takes to remain under God’s protection and in God’s grace for the rest of your time here on Earth. If you do that, you’ll be in Heaven for all eternity, because those who die in God’s grace (that is, in the presence of God’s Holy Spirit) automatically go Home.

As for those who claim to be former Christians but who’ve left Christianity for another belief system, they were never Christians to begin with. There’ll be a lot of “I left Christianity and I’ve never been happier!” claims as we move deeper and deeper into the end times, just as there’ll be a lot of (false) claims of conversion to Christianity. But we don’t need to worry about those people or their claims. Jesus said that he prays not for the world, but for those who are his in it. So our concern should be for those who love God and follow Jesus, and for those who desperately want to love God (that is, who value Truth above all), but who are temporarily blind or have lost their way.

The rest we can let go, as they, like Judas, have chosen their reward.

DANCING WITH GOD

The physicality of God, in addition to his spirituality, is a contentious issue among theologians. I’m not – THANK GOD – a theologian, so I’m more interested in approaching this topic from the perspective of Truth (that is, from God’s perspective) than from the perspective of stubborn adherence to creed (that is, from man’s perspective).

God has a body. In fact, he doesn’t just have one body, he has an infinite number of bodies, and all of them are perfect. He can manifest into the bodies whenever he chooses to. They’re different shapes and sizes and colors, but each is totally flawless. It would be impossible for God to be in an imperfect body because his very nature is perfection. Each of God’s perfect bodies aligns perfectly with the situation he is manifesting into. That is, he’ll appear to you as you wish to see him or believe him to be or in the way that he knows you need to see him. That’s why there are so many different descriptions of God in the Bible.

Recall that we’re made in God’s image. If we ideally have two arms, two legs, one head, etc., then so does God in his infinite number of perfect bodies. But God, being God, to whom all things are possible, might also possibly manifest as a perfect form of something else. It would be his perfect prerogative to do so. Recall that God appeared to Adam and Eve, habitually walking with them in the Garden of Eden. Recall that God appeared to Moses and that Moses spoke to him face to face on occasion. Recall that Moses once witnessed God’s body from the back. How anyone can read the Bible and still assert that God doesn’t have a body is beyond me.

Jesus famously stated that God is a spirit, and as such should be worshiped in Spirit and in Truth. For most of us mere mortals, God will be to us a spirit during our time on Earth. He is to me. We born-agains know God as a spirit, because that is the fulfillment of the promise. God is with his children through his Spirit, in the same way he was with the OT prophets on occasion. The difference between born-again followers of Jesus and (most) of the OT prophets is that we have God’s Spirit with us continuously; most of the earlier prophets had to make do with cameo appearances and “sneak peeks”.

But if we make it to Heaven, I have no doubt whatsoever that we’ll be talking to God face to face. I have no doubt that we’ll be hugging him and getting hugged in return. And I have no doubt that we’ll be dancing with him – you won’t know what it means to dance until you’ve danced with God in Heaven! His perfect body will be perfectly matched to your perfect body. He will anticipate your every move and move with you in perfect rhythm and perfect form. There will be no time but the beat of the music, no faltering, no missteps. There will just be perfect fluid movement in perfect motion, with feet barely touching the floor. It will be more like floating than dancing, because it will actually be more like floating. No earthly laws of gravity in Heaven!

“But Charlotte, how can you know this?”, whines every theologian everywhere.

Well, you could say I’ve had a vision, or you could say I’m just dreaming, or maybe you could say it’s a little of both. We know there’s going to be a wedding feast for those who make it to Heaven. Scripture says so. What would a wedding feast be without dancing? And what would dancing at a wedding feast be without a Father-Daughter dance?

These are the dreams and visions that sustain me. Paul says we see God now as through a glass darkly, that is, we can only have a vague idea of him; we’re not made to know him as he really is. Not yet. Not while we’re in an imperfect body with limited senses. But Paul also says that when we get Home, we’ll see God “face to face”. Paul doesn’t say we’ll “perceive” him as he is, but that we’ll SEE him as he is. Only the physically manifested can be seen.

We tend to focus entirely on Jesus, which is understandable, considering that he is our Leader and the one whose example we’re to follow. But Jesus himself focused on God during his time on Earth and promised us that we’d have the same relationship with the Father as he did. He was insistent that we get to know God as our Father – not just as our God, but as our Father. So the more we focus on God, the more we become like Jesus and the clearer God becomes to us. And the clearer God becomes to us, the closer we draw to him and to Home.

We will not be dancing with God as a spirit in Heaven, but with God in a very real, very touchable body that is the most perfect among perfected beings. And to you, he’ll look exactly as you imagine him, and to me, he’ll look exactly as I imagine him, because that’s what God does: He fits himself perfectly to each one of us, whether we’re still here on Earth in our flawed human body or in Heaven in our perfected one. Or perhaps he’ll appear as he wants us to see him, because he can do that, too.

As Jesus told us, God is Spirit. That fact is indisputable. But just as indisputable is God’s ability to manifest as a body, as scripture well attests. God will appear to you as you believe him to be, and he’ll appear to me as I believe him to be. When we’re speaking to a baby or a young child, we adjust our tone and facial expressions to soothe and engage. We don’t want to frighten the little ones; we want to make them smile. God does the same with us. His aim is not to overwhelm us, his children, but to connect with us and let his love flow through us.

That is like dancing: the flow of love across and between bodies in motion. We can do that now with God, in Spirit; but in Heaven, oh, in Heaven, that’s when the real dance begins.

HOME

I’m always a little disconcerted when I hear people who call themselves Christians describe Heaven like it’s a Philadelphia Cream Cheese commercial – bored angels floating around on clouds and playing harps all day (and eating Philadelphia Cream Cheese). There is also a common misconception among some Christians that Heaven is a place of disembodied spirits, when in fact only evil spirits are disembodied. Those in Heaven have very real and perfected bodies that last forever.

God has blessed me with visions of Home, and I’m happy to report that you’re under no obligation to eat Philadelphia Cream Cheese there (unless you want to). The best way I can describe Heaven is that it’s Earth perfected, only infinitely larger. Imagine the best day you’ve ever lived on Earth, and then imagine living infinite variations of that day forever. Imagine that best day filtered for any unpleasantness and leaving only the good. Imagine all the happiest moments you’ve ever lived, and then imagine those moments perfected. Imagine being surrounded by all your favorite things – your favorite foods, your favorite flowers, your favorite trees, your favorite animals, your favorite insects, your favorite scenery, your favorite sounds, your favorite smells – your favorite everything, perfected, and forever. That’s Heaven.

There’s no ugliness in Heaven. There’s no jealousy or lying. There’s no backbiting or gossip. There are no regrets or bad memories. There’s nothing unpleasant or uncomfortable. There’s no pain and no death, and the good-byes in Heaven are always followed by “see you soon!”, because there are no final partings there.

All the animals in Heaven are tame, and you can talk and interact with them the same way as you can talk and interact with your best friends here on Earth. The same insects that are on Earth are in Heaven, too, but their capacity to sting or bite or stink has been removed. The bugs have been debugged.

While we’re yet on Earth, we have the ability to create our own piece of Heaven every day by storing up our visual, emotional and physical treasures there. Jesus advised us to do that, which means we can and should do it. We just ask God to put this or that in our piece of Heaven, and he does it. It’s that simple.

I mentioned a few days ago about a stand of birch and pine trees, hundreds of years old, that had been cut down. I was sad to see that happen, and I grieved with the birds who had lost their homes and nests (I saw one crow flying around and around one of the felled trees in obvious distress before the tree was chopped up and hauled away). But God comforted me (as he comforted the birds) by reminding me I could have those trees in Heaven, and that’s where they are now – on my land in Heaven, perfected. I’ll be able to enjoy them again and forever when I get Home. The birds will be there, too, happy and perfected.

This is how we build our own personal Heaven. We ask God to take the things we treasure here and put them there for safekeeping until we get Home.

We don’t, however, have any control over who gets to go to Heaven, including ourselves. The judgement of souls is God’s domain. I have an inkling of some people I know and love who might be in Heaven, sleeping until the Judgement, but I won’t know for sure who made it Home until I get there myself (if in fact I do get there).

The night before he was crucified, Jesus told us that he was going Home to prepare a place for us. I believe he’s done that. He’s allotted an area for me and is letting me fill it up, day by day. That’s one of the reasons I travel – to find new places and things to store up in Heaven. So when I have to say good-bye to places and things on Earth, it doesn’t make me sad for long because I know they’re Home waiting for me and that I’ll be able to enjoy them again someday and forever. That’s one of the biggest motivators for me to stay on the strait and narrow and to love my enemies come hell or high water.

I don’t like to think about what happens if I don’t make it Home, but I still need to know. We all need to know. God tells me that my stored-up treasures wouldn’t disappear in that case, but would be made available to everyone in Heaven to use and enjoy, like a public commons. I’m glad to hear that, but even so, I want to enjoy my treasures myself. I don’t want to be somewhere eternally in pain and eternally regretting all the stupid things I did that got me there. So I choose and act accordingly here on Earth while there’s still time, with an eye to my eternal reward rather than to any earthly ones.

*****

Springtime in eastern Canada brings out the peepers – little “chorus frogs” that live in marshes and wetland areas and in the woodlands that fringe them. Having lived in cities most of my life, the first time I heard peepers was about 15 years ago, when I spent a few years in an apartment complex on a lake (the same lake that’s featured in my blog’s rainbow photo). The topography of the area around the lake and way the apartment buildings were situated next to the water body created an amphitheater effect, so the songs of the peepers reverberated and echoed around and around and around. It’s one of the most beautiful and almost unearthly sounds I’ve ever heard.

When I first heard the peepers singing, I thought they were sleigh bells. I remember thinking at the time that someone must be out on the lake at night ringing sleigh bells for some reason. (This is how the mind of a displaced urbanite tries to make sense of nature lol.) I enjoyed the peepers there for two springs, and then I moved. I’ve heard peepers since, but never to the same fullness of sound. It really was a unique and wondrous experience.

There are peepers outside my window now in Annapolis Royal. Judging by the sound level, there are only a few of them, but they brought to mind the peepers at Governors Lake. I’ve asked God and he’s graciously agreed to store up my Governors Lake peeper experience in Heaven with my other treasures. So if you do make it Home, be sure to drop by my place in the late evening and ask to hear the peepers. They’ll put on a performance just for you!

CHOOSE

What choices will you make today?

You’ll choose what time to get up.

You’ll choose what to wear.

You’ll choose what to eat for breakfast (or to skip breakfast).

In between these choices, there will be others that involve your hygiene, your message monitoring, your information gathering.

If you work outside where you’re living, you’ll choose how to get there and how to interact with anyone you meet during your commute.

When you get to your place of work, you’ll choose how much effort you’ll put into your work today.

And all along the way, you’ll choose which thoughts to entertain, which plans to solidify or to dismiss, which information to gather or to ignore.

Our lives, even sometimes during our sleep, are a series of choices. Jesus tells us that everything we do, say, and think we’ll be held accountable for at the judgement. Most of us, although aware of that line in scripture, put that information to the back of our mind. How can we live always conscious that everything we do, say and even think is being recorded, perhaps to our ultimate condemnation?

How can we live knowing we’re always under a microscope?

If you love God, you love that your every waking and sleeping moment is being monitored and weighed. It keeps you on the strait and narrow. It helps you make the right choices, knowing that in order to get the consequences you want, you’ll have to make the right choices – that is, the choices that are right in God’s eyes. God’s constant monitoring presence, through his Spirit, is a gift. You hold it tight and thank God for it.

If, on the other hand, you don’t love God, the thought of being constantly monitored by him (or those he delegates to do so) is anathema. You loathe that there is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide from what you see as his all-seeing eye. You loathe that even your thoughts are known. None of this is a comfort to you; on the contrary, you feel violated. You feel powerless. It makes you angry. You might even deny that it’s happening or even possible.

I love God. I thank him every day, all day, that he and Jesus are right here with me through his Spirit. I want all my words and actions to be weighed by him, I want my thoughts to be known to him, because then he can guide me away from the words and actions and thoughts that will lead me away from my heavenly reward. My whole purpose in doing what I do here on Earth is to solidify my plan to make it home to Heaven. God delegates us, his born-again children, to learn about him and his Way so that we can teach others about his Way, who will then in turn teach others, and so on and so on to the end of time.

Along with being the Messiah, Jesus also had the mission to teach others about God’s Way during his ministry years. We don’t have to be the Messiah (that mission is over and done and fully accomplished), but we do have to teach others about God’s Way.

*****

What choices will you make today, knowing that you’re being watched and recorded? How will that thought affect your thoughts? What will you do to teach others about God’s Way?

I hope you’ll make good (godly) choices and enjoy the good consequences that come from them.

I hope you’ll do what’s right in God’s eyes.

I hope, that when it’s your time, your choices will be weighed in your favour and you’ll get to go Home.

And I hope that if you make it home and I make it home, we’ll meet up in Heaven and share in each other’s rewards.

Mine is full of my grandmother’s brown sugar fudge, as a start. You can have as much brown sugar fudge as you want when you come for a visit, because there’s a never-ending supply, and it always tastes perfect.

What rewards are waiting for you? Did you know that as much as you get to choose your words, thoughts and actions on Earth, you also get to choose your rewards in Heaven, bearing in mind that nothing evil can get into Heaven?

If you haven’t yet started to choose your rewards, I recommend that you do so. Choose your favourite scenery, your favourite food, your favourite trees and flowers and animals – make it personal. Make it entirely you. Make it all the things you love and treasure. Make it things that have had a hard life here but give them a better place in your heavenly home. Jesus tells us to store up our treasures in Heaven, so store them up. Be generous. There’s no limit to what Heaven can hold.

Yesterday, I saw a stand of trees hundreds of years old be cut down. With them, went the homes of generations of birds and other wildlife. Some of the trees even had nests in them. I couldn’t stop the destruction, but I could pray to God for the trees and all the lives they had sheltered to be part of my place in Heaven, and that’s where they are now, waiting for me. My heavenly home has gained a beautiful stand of birch and pine trees, along with innumerable birds and squirrels and foxes and deer and insects. This is how we choose our Heaven.

*****

What choices will you make today?

I pray that you make the right ones.