Countdown to Eternity: Heaven or Hell?
Discussing current events and how they relate to Biblical prophesy. What are some critical signs are pointing to the imminent Rapture of the Church?
Senior officials from the Biden and Trump administrations will make a rare joint appearance at an event marking the one-year anniversary of the signing of the Abraham Accords next week in Washington, the confab’s organizers told The Times of Israel on Thursday.
The Tuesday event at the Four Seasons Hotel is being organized by the Abraham Accords Peace Institute, which was launched by Jared Kushner, former president Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, and one of the main brokers of the normalization agreements Israel signed last year with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan.
Kushner will be in attendance and offer opening remarks, said AAPI executive director Robert Greenway, who was senior director for Middle Eastern affairs on Trump’s National Security Council when the Abraham Accords were signed.
After Kushner’s address, Greenway will moderate a panel featuring the ambassadors of some of the countries represented in the accords — Israeli Ambassador to the US Gilad Erdan, UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef al-Otaiba and Bahrain Ambassador to the US Sheikh Abdullah bin Rashid al-Khalifa. The panel will be followed by a private luncheon for those in attendance.
Also in attendance will be members of Congress, senior representatives from the US State Department along with representatives from Egypt and Jordan, which “laid the foundation for the Abraham Accords” by being the first Arab countries to sign peace deals with Israel in 1979 and 1994 respectively, Greenway said.
Despite diverging from Trump’s policies in almost all issues, senior Biden officials have repeatedly insisted that they support the normalization initiatives spearheads by the previous administration and seek to advance them as well.
“We’ve done an awful lot of work behind the scenes in building upon the breakthroughs,” one of them said in a background briefing last month. “Behind the scenes, there’s an awful lot of work going on to expand those arrangements to other countries.”
Erdogan heralds massive military complex to coordinate military, security agencies / Al-Monitor, September 8, 2021
Turkey has launched the construction of the massive military complex, the Crescent and Star, named after the symbols of its national flag, to bring the Defense Ministry, the chief of General Staff, and the headquarters of the land, air and navy forces under a single roof, with the stated aim of enhancing coordination between military institutions and their operational effectiveness.
Dubbed “Turkey’s Pentagon,” the project will sprawl on an area of some 12.6 million square meters and have indoor spaces of 890,000 square meters to house up to 15,000 employees. A crescent-shaped structure in the middle of the complex will contain various conference halls, curving around a ceremonial ground of 23,000 square meters and facing a star-shaped structure to the south. The complex will be erected in Ankara’s suburb of Baglica, not far from the new, high-security headquarters to which the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) moved last year. The Defense Ministry, the chief of General Staff, and the headquarters of the land, air and navy forces are currently housed in separate buildings in Kizilay, the commercial heart of the Turkish capital, in close proximity to parliament and government buildings.
According to state-run media, “The design, originality, size and technological features [of the Crescent and Star complex] will make it one of the most modern and functional headquarters in the world.” The structure will “instill fear in enemies and give confidence to friends,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan boasted at the groundbreaking ceremony Aug. 30.
Russia, Belarus launch massive war games – worrying NATO / France 24, September 9, 2021
Russia and Belarus formally opened vast joint military drills on Thursday, a week-long exercise across the territory of both countries and in the Baltic Sea that has alarmed some NATO countries.
Top military leaders from the two countries attended the opening ceremony of the war games, called “Zapad-2021”, in western Russia where flags were raised and speeches given.
The active part of the exercise, which comes at a time of heightened tensions between the West and Belarus due to a crackdown on the opposition there, begins on Friday and will run until Sept. 16.
The Russian defence ministry said up to 200,000 military personnel, some 80 aircraft and helicopters, up to 15 ships and nearly 300 tanks would take part.
The drills will involve live fire and mark the culmination of a bigger three-month exercise.
Military personnel from Armenia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia will participate too, the Russian defence ministry said.
NATO officials have warned that the drills, which follow a huge Russian military buildup on Ukraine’s borders earlier this year, increase the risk of an accident or miscalculation that could touch off a crisis.
Are approaching the final countdown?
Whether you believe that or not, as Christian apologist Walter Martin used to say – the real death rate is one per person, meaning that each person’s death is a matter of when, not if.
What is our ultimate fate?
“There was a rich man who would dress in purple and fine linen, feasting lavishly every day. But a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, was left at his gate. He longed to be filled with what fell from the rich man’s table, but instead the dogs would come and lick his sores.
One day the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torment in Hades, he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off, with Lazarus at his side. ‘Father Abraham!’ he called out, ‘Have mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this flame!’
“‘Son,’ Abraham said, ‘remember that during your life you received your good things, just as Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here, while you are in agony. Besides all this, a great chasm has been fixed between us and you, so that those who want to pass over from here to you cannot; neither can those from there cross over to us.’
“‘Father,’ he said, ‘then I beg you to send him to my father’s house— because I have five brothers—to warn them, so they won’t also come to this place of torment.’
“But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’
“‘No, father Abraham,’ he said. ‘But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
“But he told him, ‘If they don’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16:19-31)
Jesus teaches that heaven and hell are both real, literal places. Sadly, many preachers shy away from uncomfortable topics such as hell. Some even teach “universalism” – the belief that everyone goes to heaven. Yet Christ spoke about hell a great deal, as did Paul, Peter, John, Jude, and the writer of Hebrews. The Bible is clear that every person who has ever lived will spend eternity in either heaven or hell. Like the rich man in the story, multitudes today are complacent in their conviction that all is well with their soul, and many will hear our Savior tell them otherwise when they die:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)
This story also illustrates that once we cross the eternal horizon, that’s it. There are no more chances. The transition to our eternal state takes place the moment we die:
Two others—criminals—were also led away to be executed with Him. When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified Him there, along with the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided His clothes and cast lots.
The people stood watching, and even the leaders kept scoffing: “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked Him. They came offering Him sour wine and said, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!”
An inscription was above Him:
THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
Then one of the criminals hanging there began to yell insults at Him: “Aren’t You the Messiah? Save Yourself and us!”
But the other answered, rebuking him: “Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment? We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!”
And He said to him, “I assure you: Today you will be with Me in paradise.” (Luke 23:32-43)
When believers die, they are immediately in the conscious fellowship and joys of heaven. When unbelievers die, they are just as immediately in the conscious pain, suffering, and torment of hell.
Notice the rich man didn’t ask for his brothers to pray for his release from some purgatorial middle ground, thereby expediting his journey to heaven. He knew he was in hell, and he knew why. That’s why his requests were merely to be comforted and to have a warning sent to his brothers. He knew there was no escape. He was eternally separated from God, and Abraham made it clear to him that there was no hope of ever mitigating his pain, suffering, or sorrow. Those in hell will perfectly recollect missed opportunities and their rejection of the gospel.
Like many these days who buy into the “prosperity gospel,” the rich man wrongly saw his material riches as evidence of God’s love and blessing. Likewise, he believed the poor and destitute, like Lazarus, were cursed by God. Yet, as the apostle James exhorted, “You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter” (James 5:5). Not only do riches not get one into heaven, but they have the power to separate a person from God in a way that few other things can. Riches are deceitful (Mark 4:19). It is certainly not impossible for the very rich to enter heaven (many heroes of the Bible were wealthy), but Scripture is clear that it is very hard (Matthew 19:23-24; Mark 10:23-25; Luke 18:24-25).
True followers of Christ will not be indifferent to the plight of the poor like the rich man in this story was. God loves the poor and is offended when His children neglect them. In fact, those who show mercy to the poor are in effect ministering to Christ personally (Matthew 25:35-40). Christians are known by the fruit they bear. The Holy Spirit’s residence in our hearts will most certainly impact how we live and what we do.
Abraham’s words in verses 29 and 31 referring to “Moses and the Prophets” (Scripture) confirms that understanding the revealed Word of God has the power to turn unbelief into faith. Furthermore, knowing Scripture helps us to understand that God’s children, like Lazarus, can suffer while on this earth—suffering is one of the many tragic consequences of living in a sinful and fallen world.
The Bible says our earthly lives are a “mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). Our earthly sojourn is exceedingly brief. Perhaps the greatest lesson to learn from this story, then, is that when death comes knocking on our door there is only one thing that matters: our relationship with Jesus Christ. “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26; Mark 8:36).
Eternal life is only found in Christ. “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12). The truth is, if we wish to live apart from God during our time on earth, He will grant us our wish for eternity as well. As one pastor aptly said, “If you board the train of unbelief, you will have to take it all the way to its destination.”
In the story of Job, the Lord is asking Job if he knows the physical and moral laws by which the course of nature is governed (Do you know the laws of heaven?) In asking Job that question, God was helping His troubled servant to understand just how little humans really know in comparison with the limitless wisdom of the Creator.
Paul stated the position very clearly to the Romans:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. For in it God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.
For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse. (Romans 1:16-20)
Paul appeals to the natural revelation of God and His will to establish humanity’s knowledge of sin and God’s justice in the coming judgment.
The natural law itself doesn’t reveal the Good News of salvation. There’s a natural law, but there’s no natural gospel. A conception of natural law does, however, provide theological explanation for why the Son of God became incarnate, died, and rose again. The church doesn’t preach the gospel into a vacuum, but to real people whom God created for good purposes and who failed to attain those purposes.
The Lord’s universe preaches to people who are hurt and needy—hurt and needy not because they’re lost in a sea of chaos, but because they’re out of alignment with the moral laws by which God governs this world. Natural law explains the biblical teaching that, deep down, all people know that there’s a God, a moral order of the world, and a final judgment. Thanks to the natural law, every person is ready, at some level, to hear and to understand the gospel, even before any Christian explains it to him.
What is the gospel – the Good News?
Jesus lived a perfect life and did not sin. There were some people who did not like what Jesus was doing and plotted to have Him crucified. He was scourged, mocked, and hung on a cross until he died. Then, he was placed in a tomb. Just like the Passover lambs were offered and their blood was shed for the forgiveness of sin, Jesus was offered and his blood was shed. His perfect sacrifice was better than an animal sacrifice and by the shedding of his blood came the forgiveness of sins for all people once and forever.
Jesus paid the price for all mankind when he suffered on the cross. He took on himself the rebellion and sin of all mankind from the past, present and future. So, even we have caused him the pain he suffered. He was the final sacrifice, the perfect sacrifice for all time. No longer did man have to sacrifice animals to cover their sin because his ultimate sacrifice PAID the price for all time.
He arose from the dead three days later and appeared to his disciples and apostles and many witnesses. He returned to his Father in heaven, but before ascending he charged them to spread his teachings to all the nations of the world. He promised to come again to take his people who believe in him and look for his appearing to be with him in the clouds.
For those who know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he sent, there will be no more death, no more sorrow, and no more crying or pain. God will be with his people and he will wipe away all tears from their eyes. The former things will pass away and all things will be made new. This will continue forever.
In its biblical usage, “unbelief” always connotes stubborn resistance, disobedience, rebellion and rejection of the Gospel. The truth is, God doesn’t want to send anyone to Hell. He’d much rather people come to Heaven with Him, so much so that He sent His one and only Son to take our punishment so that we wouldn’t have to. But, He created humans with free will.
We have the choice whether we want to accept God and be with Him, or reject Him and spend eternity away from Him. The sad fact is, many will make the decision not to be a part of God’s heaven.
Those who continue rebelling and reject this sacrifice for their sin will remain spiritually dead for all eternity, and will be sent to the hell of the bottomless pit along with Satan and his evil angels.
If you are not sure that you are saved, you can accept Christ into your life right now, by praying:
“Lord Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Please forgive my sins and give me the gift of eternal life. I ask you in to my life and heart to be my Lord and Savior.”
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