Wednesday, June 8, 2016

How God is One and We are a Trinity In His Image

I was asked if I would write an article on whether Jesus and God are one. The resulting article should probably be made into two, for it not only addresses the Divine Trinity, it addresses our trinity to help explain the Divine one. So I apologize in advance for the length of this article, but I feel compelled to write all that is written below.

God makes it very clear throughout Scripture that there is only one God and He is it. He will not give His glory to another. Yet the Scriptures are conflicted on this issue. First we must establish that God is one God and will have no other god before Him, nor will He allow any but Himself to be worshiped. He says there is no Savior and Redeemer other than Himself.

Deuteronomy 4:35 "Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him."

Deuteronomy 6:4 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:"

Isaiah 43:10-11 "Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.  I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour."

Isaiah 13:4 "Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me."

Even Christ said that there is only one God.

Mark 12:29 "And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:"

And so did Paul.

Galatians 3:20 "Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one."

God says He will not allow worship of any but Himself.

Exodus 20:3-5 "Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:  Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;"

Isaiah 48:11 " For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another."

God clearly establishes that He is one Person. Having established that, we will now see what else He has to reveal about Himself.

I think before I can give all the Scriptural evidence for showing God and Christ are both God, it is necessary to understand the concept of the Trinity. Most people have a problem understanding the Trinity, as they do not understand how there can be three persons who are also one person. Because they cannot wrap their head around the concept, they deny it exists. Just because we cannot understand everything about God, it does not mean we should dismiss it. Especially when the Scriptures tell us something is so.  It is hard to know how to lay out the defense for all of this in an order that makes sense, so I will just start at the beginning and go from there.

Right at the beginning, God told us that He was more than one being. It says in Genesis 1:1 that "In the beginning God  created the heaven and the earth." This is told to us again in Exodus 20:11 "For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it."  Most accept this as being God the Father, and yes it is, but the word for God is Elohim, which is a plural word. Then in the second verse of Genesis 1, we are told that the Spirit of God contributes to the process of creation. "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." This is again spoken of in Job 26:13 "By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent."  While some might think that simply means God the Father again, and it does in a way, as God is a triune being, we know from the New Testament that the Spirit is a separate personality. John 15:7 "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you."  So we are told about two of the persons of God in the first two verses of Scripture, and the New Testament bears out the separate person of the Holy Spirit. He is someone that Christ is sending to replace Himself on earth for the sake of His followers. If some believe the Spirit is a force and not a person, the book of Acts shows over and over that He spoke to and guided people  and was grieved by their actions. A force cannot speak, hear, guide, and show people things, nor does it have feelings. Only a person has those qualities. John 16:13 "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come."

So from the first few verses of Genesis we can see that God is two persons. In the New Testament it is revealed that He is three persons, for we are told that Christ also created the world. Colossians 1:16-17 "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist."  So the Bible teaches that God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and the Son all created the heavens and the earth. Yet it says that God created them. This is the beginning of understanding that God is a plurality. We again see that plurality when God destroyed the Tower of Babel. Genesis 11:6-7 "And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.  Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech."

When God gets to the sixth day of creation, He creates man. Here is where we are given a better idea of how we will learn how the Trinity works, by examining our own trinity. When God created man He said that He created man not in "His" image, but in "our" image. Genesis 1:26 "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness."  So when we look at man, as He is in the image of God, we should see some resemblance of a plurality, since God refers to Himself in the plural. In fact we should see a trinity, and we do. When we look at ourselves, we see a triune being. We have a body. As it is corrupt and sinful, because of the fall, and is not redeemable (hence why we must die)  it desires to feed the lusts of carnality and will never desire righteousness. It is not regenerated when the spirit is. The body is mortal and must of necessity die, so that born again believers can be released from any residual effects of sin (the flesh) within their trinity, however there is a resurrected body of perfection which will replace the corrupt one we now have, (if you belong to the Lord.)

Next, we have a spirit (which is only "alive" and connected to God when we accept Jesus as our Savior. Otherwise it is "dead" or disconnected from God. Either way, it is eternal.). Our spirit seeks to be with and please God (again speaking of those who belong to the Lord). It is that part of us that communes with God and allows the Holy Spirit to channel the love of God into our lives to influence us to love and serve God. Upon being born again, the spirit is redeemed and made sinless, as Christ has redeemed it. There are many Scriptures that speak to this, so that we can understand that we have been forgiven of our sins and that we now are seen through the blood of Christ as sinless.

The third part of our trinity is the intellect by which we are self-aware and can think apart from the spirit. Some might call it the soul. The soul is the breath of life and animals have souls, but they are not eternal spiritual beings, however,  they can think and choose by instinct and intellect. Our intellect however is eternal no matter what state our spirit is in, for we are self-aware and process information. If that were not so, we would not be able to make choices (while alive) while the spirit is dead, but we can. And the Scriptures teach that people are very aware of the fact that they are in hell, so it continues after death as well. The intellect also includes our will, by which our trinity is directed as to what decisions and choices will be enacted. The intellect is capable of making choices apart from the body's or spirit's desires. It processes the information and opposing desires from both the spirit and body, along with its own intellectually driven will and makes the choice that our being will carry out. The problem with our intellect or will though, is that it is limited. We cannot see the future and consequences at all times of the choices we make, and sometimes our flesh can deceive us as to what the consequences might be, making us think they will be much better than they are. Sometimes the choices made frustrate the body, as it is forced to be subjugated to the spirit's desires and sometimes the spirit is grieved when the flesh wins out. It is actually the director of the trinity, who decides between the desires of the two opposing sources of body and spirit and directs the body to carry out its will, just as God has the final say with the Son and the Holy Spirit. God's will be done is the last word. As one grows in Christ and continually chooses to pursue the desires of the spirit, the flesh becomes more and more subjugated. On the other hand, if the will decides in favor of the flesh, over time sin will take over the individual, silencing the spirit and quenching the Holy Spirit.

While we see the three parts of our being as being one entity, the individual person, they actually function as three individuals. Most people never think about this as being how we operate. The spirit is born separated  from God and only when the will or intellect part of us responds to the call of God to reconnect via Christ, does the spirit get reconnected to God through God giving us the faith. Thus the spirit and intellect are not the same. Before a person is saved, the spirit is silent, for it is dead or disconnected from God. Once the spirit is alive again, it seeks only to please God, therefore we find that it does continual battle with the body, which also has a will of its own, to seek self-gratification and sin, for the body is not redeemed by being born again. It has been condemned to death as a result of Adam's sin, so that we might one day be freed from any remnants of the fall and have a new body which is perfect as our redeemed spirit is perfect.

Romans 7:14-25 " For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.We have to serve the law of God with our mind as well as our spirit, or choose with our intellect/mind to follow the leading of the spirit part of us.

If we are born again, our spirit wants to serve God. If we are born again, our will or intellect has also chosen the path of God and wants to serve God, but it can sometimes be deceived and convinced that sin is okay, and it allows the body to have its way. The odds of a Christian's mind giving into the "big" sins, such as murder, adultery, etc. are very slim, however we are easily convinced by the flesh that "little" sins are not really sins. I hear people calling them faults, mistakes, immaturity, being impatient, lacking in the fullness of fruit, or whatever term they like to use to justify what God actually sees as sin. We must remember that Christ said that if we hate (even if it only lasts 30 seconds) it is the same as murder. Lust (if you get momentarily turned on by someone) for only 10 seconds is still adultery. Gossip can actually "murder" someone's reputation. There are a myriad of "little" sins. So while some like to pretend that these are not sins, that they are just not bringing in the fullness of the fruits of the spirit, they do what John says in 1 John 1:8 & 10  "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.... If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."  John was speaking to believers, not unbelievers about receiving salvation. We know this from the next verse in Chapter 2:1 "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." He warned us that we were capable of still sinning and gave us the remedy for this in 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." For us to sin, both the body and the intellect are responsible for choosing sin, as the spirit is now without sin due to being redeemed. Therefore these sins are still held to our account, because they are committed by our trinity, regardless of the opposition of the spirit who refuses to sin with them, as it is redeemed. It still resides in a sinful shell. So therefore we must confess these sins. They are not faults, they are not mistakes, they are not immaturity, they are not "not quite the full fruit," they are sins. And sin disrupts our relationship with God and allows Satan to then continue to deceive us away from the truth. And the more we deny that these "little" things are sins, the easier it is for them to become bigger ones. In fact to believe that one is incapable of sin is the sin of the Pharisees, self-righteous pride, and pride is one of the big sins.

Our bodies, unlike our regenerated spirit, will never be anything but sinful, and so it craves to serve sin, for the flesh is carnal and corrupt. So we can see that there are three distinct personalities within ourselves that have wills of their own that war with each other. (They war because they are not all on the same page. God's Trinity is.)  Yet we are one person, and function as such. While the spirit, body, and intellect are all contained in one person (us), they also have their own desires and will, but the spirit and body are subject to the will of the intellect. We can bring the body under subjection to the spirit's choices by our will. Or our will can ignore the desires of the spirit and allow the body to fulfill its lusts. The choice is made by the intellect/will. It has the final say. It is because our intellect/will is separate from our spirit that unregenerate people can still do good things and live moral lives. They just are not connected to God, so that these things will not be coming from Him.

Some theologies teach that without regeneration, we can do nothing good. This is not really Scriptural or accurate. They are not good in the sense that they do works given by God to further His kingdom, but they still are good works by which the people will be judged for punishment on Judgment Day. They will be judged according to their works. We all know unbelievers who do good deeds. There are also theologies that teach that our entire being is redeemed and made sinless. That is not scriptural either and leads to deception, making people believe that no confession or repentance is needed ever again for any action they commit, even if it is sin, for they do not see their sin as sin. It says in Hebrews 12:6-11 "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?  For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.  Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby"  A person who is without sin (and only Christ was without sin) would not need chastening, yet it says if we are not chastened at all, then we are bastards and not sons. Chastening is what leads us into holiness. It is what prunes out the sin so that we can produce good fruit.  Chastening is not the same as tribulation. Chastening is punishment. You don't punish a perfect sinless person. Tribulation is hard times given to us to build character, not punish us. So this is saying that the expectation is that we will not be able to live perfect lives or be perfect, for we are still in sinful bodies. God deals with us accordingly by chastening us to bring us into holiness, just as our natural fathers do.  In John 15:2 it tells us, "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit."  The purpose of purging or pruning a tree is to cut off that which is keeping the tree from producing good fruit. Good trees can produce bad stuff, which is why you prune it. Ask any farmer. Any tree that is not pruned will resort to wildness and not have good fruit or possibly any fruit. And Christians can sin, which is why they are purged or chastened. Christians are punished here for their sins, not eternally. It is a temporal punishment only, whatever the consequences of our sins bring forth in this world,  for our sins have all been forgiven as far as our spirit is concerned. The punishment is to get us to bring our bodies under subjection. However for unbelievers all sins, big and little, are eternally punished. It is not just here that they suffer the consequences, it is eternally that they do. Therein lies the difference.

[As a note, a believer can end up falling away and lose their salvation. As the parable of the seeds teaches, the cares of the world or persecution may make a person repudiate Christ. Once that is done, there is no more salvation available for them. See Hebrews 6 & 10. Also my article on Calvinism vs. Arminianism or eternal security]

Now having discussed our own trinity, in hopefully a way which makes it clear that we are three in one, we can look at how God is three in One. While we incorporate all three of these things into one body, God is far beyond being constrained in this limited way. He is all three of these things too, but each of these parts of Him is a separate manifestation rather than being contained in one body. Christ is the equivalent of our body. He manifested on earth in an earthly body apart from God the Father and the Holy Spirit, but even before that He was a separate person known as the Angel of the Lord, and manifested on earth in that pre-incarnate state. We know this was not the Father, for nobody in human form can see the Father and live. Exodus 33:20 "And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live." (This refers to God the Father) But yet He is referred to as the Lord. There are several times when He appeared to people. The first was Abraham before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Genesis 18:1, 13-14, 17,  "And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;......And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.......And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;"  Later He appeared to Hagar, Genesis 16:7-13 " And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.  And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.  And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.  And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.  And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction.  And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.  And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?"

The Angel of the Lord spoke and appeared to people numerous times. Genesis 22 - to Abraham when He was about to sacrifice Isaac. To Moses in the burning bush, Exodus 3. To Balaam and his ass in Numbers 22. In Judges 2, He manifests to chastise the Israelites for not obeying Him. In Judges 13, He appears to Manoah and his wife to tell them that she would bear a son, called Samson. They at first do not realize that it is the Angel of the Lord until He departs in a supernatural way. Then they understand whom they have seen. 13:22 "And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God."  In several of these passages the people realize that they have seen God manifested. There are dozens of other appearances in the Old Testament, but I will not list them all. However, I do want to mention another appearance. When the three Hebrew boys found themselves thrown in the fiery furnace, a fourth person appeared. It was the Angel of the Lord, but He is given another name as well. Daniel 3:25 "He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God."  We know Christ is the Son of God, and clearly this is who is in the furnace with the boys.  Another reference I want to make is that of a passage in Zechariah. We know from Revelation that Jesus will lead the saints to Armageddon to do battle. Revelation 19:11-14 "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.  His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.  And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.  And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean."  In Zechariah, it tells us that the Lord shall defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The House of David (Jesus is the only one left from the House of David to reign as king) is as God and the Angel of the Lord before the armies. Zechariah 12:8 " In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them."  This is the same event as in Revelation, and Christ is referred to as God and the Angel of the Lord. So we see that a bodily manifestation of God (who said He could not appear to men or they would die) did appear to men. And in several cases that Angel of the Lord is said to be God. The Second Coming of Jesus with the saints is described as the coming of the Lord God. Zechariah 14:5 "And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee." So we can see that Christ is a separate manifestation apart from God the Father. He is known as the Angel of the Lord and the Son of God in the Old Testament. Jude also talks about this when quoting Enoch. Verse 14 "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints." Enoch said "the Lord", and since the Lord God was the only one Enoch knew, that is of whom he is speaking, even though we know he is speaking of Christ. Christ has had three bodies. His first body was the one in which He manifested as the Angel of the Lord. The second body was the human body He took to become our kinsman redeemer. The third body is the one in which He will reside for the rest of eternity. It is the resurrected body, the same kind that we too will have upon our resurrection.

[Now one may say that my saying that our body has a will of its own is not reality as it never manifested in the Godhead that there was ever any variation in the wills of the Trinity, but that is not quite true. Christ prayed that the cup might pass from Him and that He might not suffer. His flesh did not desire to have to suffer for us, any more than anyone would want to suffer what He suffered. The human flesh was not in tune with the agenda (for obvious reasons), but He made the choice (as He was without sin) in His spirit and intellect/will to choose God's will over His own. He subjugated the flesh. He lived in a human body which had corruption and would die, but exercised complete 100% control over it, subjecting it to the will of God at all times His entire life. Had He not really inhabited a completely human body (that was subject to the temptation of sin) He would not really have been a kinsman redeemer, nor would He have been able to be tempted. He was both, human and tempted, but He never succumbed. He was 100% God (His sinless spirit) and 100% human (corrupted human flesh). We too as born again believers are 100% sinless (in spirit) but 100% still corrupt sinful human (in the flesh). Therefore we still refer to ourselves as sinners, albeit saved (in the spirit) by grace. We are not like Christ, who being God in the flesh was not going to ever choose sin. We have been given the ability to turn to God to help us, through the Holy Spirit, to not be tempted to sin, but we don't always do that. We can lose our temper, we can say things we shouldn't, we can commit "little" sins and brush them aside. We are not sinless or perfect until we leave this body behind. We do have the option to not sin, as God has provided a way out of temptations, but I have yet to meet a person who has managed to do that 100% and never sins (except in their own mind).]

The Holy Spirit is the Godhead's equivalent of our spirit. It is that person of God who connects us to God by indwelling us and influencing us via our spirit. The Holy Spirit guides and directs our spirit, and our spirit seeks to live a righteous life, however, our flesh does not want to listen to it. The Holy Spirit does not seem to have a body described in Scripture. He is described more by His attributes. Isaiah 11:2 "And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;" To make matters more confusing, the Spirit seems to be what is called a seven-fold spirit by some, due to His seven attributes. His only appearance is described in Revelation 1:4 "John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;" This is all we are told, so I have no other explanation for the Spirit's manifestation.

God the Father is the equivalent, so to speak, of our intellect and will. This does not mean that the other parts of God (Christ and the Spirit) do not have intelligence and will, (just as God is not without a spiritual body) for they would not have desires if they did not. (Christ's prayer in the garden exemplifies His ability to have a different will from the Father, He just doesn't exercise it). They all have wills and can choose, just as all three of our trinity have wills and choose, but our trinity is not in harmony. They fight it out. God's Trinity is in harmony.  It is just that there is an order and hierarchy, for God is order. Just as our intellect and will directs what choices we make between the pull of the spirit and body, the Father makes the decisions for the body (Christ) and spirit (Holy Spirit) part of His being. That is why Christ submitted Himself to the will of the Father while still being equal with Him. Philippians 2:5-6 "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:" Our actions will be the result of our intellect choosing whether to side with the spirit (which is sinless) or the body (which is sinful). In the Godhead's case, all three always seek to put the Father's will first, and therefore there is no problem as all are sinless. We do not have the same situation. Our will can choose to side with the flesh at times, and it does on occasion. It is more prone to doing that when it convinces itself that the "little" sins are not really sins, for our intellect, by virtue of being intelligent as well as being influenced by the spirit, recognizes that the big sins are bad. Even unregenerate intelligence recognizes this truth, so we are not tempted to give in to those. The "little" sins however are easily overlooked by us, but not by God.

Getting back to the original purpose, now that the Trinity has been somewhat explained (as much as one can explain it), we need to see more of the Scriptural proof that Jesus is indeed God. God is called certain things in Scripture. He demands that nobody but He be worshiped. If we can see that Christ is called these same things, and God demands that people worship Him, then we can see that Christ is indeed God.

God the Father is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

1 Kings 18:36 "And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word."  Acts 3:13 "The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go."

Christ as the Angel of the Lord is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

Exodus 3:2-6 "And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.  And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.  And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God." 

Then God the Father and Christ the Son both have the same name. When Moses asks who He should say is sending Him He gets this answer. Exodus 3:14 "And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you."  Jesus told the Pharisees that He was "I AM" the now unspoken name of God. John 8:58 "Jesus said unto them, Verily,verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." The reason they sought to stone Him was that they considered Him guilty of blasphemy in that He called Himself by the name of God, so saying that He was I AM. And remember, the one who told Moses that His name was I AM was God, the Angel of the Lord. The name I AM has been transliterated more or less as Yahweh, and in English Jehovah. So both God the Father and Christ the Son lay claim to the name Yahweh/Jehovah.

There are other passages which refer to Christ as God.  Acts 20:28 "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood."  This verse says that the church of God was purchased with His own blood. That God died and shed His blood for His church. It does not say Christ, it says God.

1 Timothy 3:16 "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory."  In this verse we are told that God was manifest in the flesh. It does not say the Son of God as a different person, but God Himself was manifest in the flesh.

Titus 2:13 "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;Christ is called the great God.

Matthew 1:23 "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."  Christ was named "God with us." He was God incarnate.

John 10:30 "I and my Father are one."  Christ Himself said that He and the Father were one person.

John 14:9 "Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?"  Christ tells Philip that when he sees Him, he has seen the Father, making Himself the same person. This is why when people looked upon the Angel of the Lord, they were seeing God.

John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."  The Word is Jesus. And the Word is God.

Finally there is a verse that explicitly says that God is a triune Being where all three persons are one. 1 John 5:7 "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one."  This verse speaks for itself. Now the reason that some people do not believe these above verses, is due to the modern translations who change these verses or in the case of the last verse mentioned, delete it entirely from the Bible. This is why the KJV Bible is the one to use. For more on this subject see my articles on the KJV Bible. 

Continuing on with showing that Christ and the Father are one Person, one of the most familiar verses that we hear every Christmas season is found in Isaiah 9:6. "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." We are told in this passage, which we know refers to Christ, that one of His names is the mighty God. God the Father is the mighty or Almighty God,  Exodus 6:3 "And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them,"  yet here Christ is referred to as the mighty God. And further, it calls Christ the everlasting Father. But wait, there is only one Father. Christ is known as the Son. The only way Christ can be the Father and the Son is if the Father and Son are one being, that Being being the mighty God.

God is the Savior. Isaiah 43:3 "For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee."  Isaiah 45:21 "Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me."  Luke 1:47 "And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour."

Christ is the Savior. Luke 2:11 "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." John 4:42 " And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world."

God is the Redeemer.  Isaiah 49:26 "And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob." Isaiah 60:16 " Thou shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shalt suck the breast of kings: and thou shalt know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob."  Isaiah 54:5 "For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called."

Christ is the Redeemer. Galatians 3:13 "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:" Titus 2:13-14 "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."

There is a verse in the Old Testament that points to Christ being the Redeemer as a separate person and calls Him the Lord of Hosts, but still it presents God as one God. In this verse, God and Christ say that they are the first and the last and there is no God besides them. Isaiah 44:6 " Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God."

God is the First and the Last, the Alpha and Omega, and the Beginning and the End.

Isaiah 41:4 "Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he."  Isaiah 48:12 "Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last."  Revelation 1:8 "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty."  Revelation 21:6 "And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely."

Christ is called the First and the Last, the Alpha and Omega, and the Beginning and the End.
Revelation 1:11 "Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last:" Revelation 1:17 "And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:" Revelation 22:13 "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last."

God is the Lord of Hosts. Zechariah 6:12 "And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD:"   Isaiah 54:5 "For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called."

Christ is the Lord of Hosts. Isaiah 31:4-5 "For thus hath the LORD spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall the LORD of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof. As birds flying, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it."  This chapter in Isaiah is prophetically referring to the Day of the Lord /Armageddon when Christ fights against the beast, otherwise known later in this passage as the Assyrian. Likewise the following passage is also about the same event. Zechariah 9:15 " The LORD of hosts shall defend them; and they shall devour, and subdue with sling stones; and they shall drink, and make a noise as through wine; and they shall be filled like bowls, and as the corners of the altar."  Isaiah 44:6 " Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God." Christ is the Lord's Redeemer and Lord of hosts.

God is the King. Isaiah 44:6 " Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God." Zechariah 14:16-17 "And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain."  Malachi 1:14 "But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the LORD a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the LORD of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen." 

Christ is the King. Zechariah 9:9 "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass."  Matthew 21:5 "Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass." Revelation 17:14 "These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful." Revelation 19:16 "And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."

God is the Shepherd. Psalm 23:1 "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want." Psalm 80:1 " Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth." 

Christ is the Shepherd. John 10:11 "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." John 10:14 "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine." 1 Peter 2:25 "For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls." 1 Peter 5:4 "And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away."

God the Father is called our Rock. Psalm 18:2 "The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower." Psalm 62:2, 6-7 "He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved..... He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved.  In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God." Psalm 89:26 "He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation."Psalm 95:1 "O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation." 

Christ the Son is called the Rock. 1 Cor. 10:4 "And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ."

Finally, God has declared that He will not have worship of anyone but Himself.  Exodus 34:14 "For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God."  Even Jesus said we are to only worship God. Matthew 4:10 "Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."

In spite of this, Jesus accepted worship. Matthew 9:18 "While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live." Matthew 14:33 "Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God." Matthew 15:25 "Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me." Matthew 28:9 "And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him." Matthew 28:17 "And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted." Luke 24:51-52 "And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.  And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:" John 5:23 "That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him."  John 9:37-38 "And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him."  John 20:28 "And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God." Thomas declared Jesus to be God and worshiped him. So in His actions, Jesus was affirming that He was God, for He was accepting the worship that only God could accept.

God tells us that we should worship the Son. Psalm 2:7-12 "I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.  Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.  Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.  Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.  Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.  Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him."  To kiss the Son would be to pay homage to Him or in essence worship Him. Philippians 2:9-11 "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;  And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

God calls Jesus both God and Lord and tells the angels to worship Him.

Psalm 45:6 "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre."  Hebrews 1:6-8 "And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom."

Psalm 110:1 "The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." Matthew 22:42-45 "Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David.  He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying,  The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?  If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?" Mark 12:35-37 " And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David?  For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.  David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son?" Luke 20:41-44 "And he said unto them, How say they that Christ is David's son?  And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,  Till I make thine enemies thy footstool.  David therefore calleth him Lord, how is he then his son?

All of heaven worships the Son in the presence of the Father.

Revelation 5:11-14 "And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;  Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.  And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.  And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever." 

This does not begin to cover all of the verses and proofs that Jesus and God are the same person. If one cannot see from this that they are, then one is just deliberately blinding oneself to what is clearly taught. The only way both things can be true, that God is one God and demands that we worship no other, yet He also demands worship of the Son and calls Him by the titles of Lord and God, is for Jesus the Son and God the Father to be one Person. It is a difficult concept, but there is no alternative. The fact that we are a Trinity ourselves, should make it easier to realize how God can be three persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Some things cannot be totally understood or explained, because of our finite minds. Sometimes we have to  look at the evidence, and just accept the conclusion whether we can grasp it with our minds or not. The evidence says that God is Three Persons in One. The Father and the Son are One. 


Monday, June 6, 2016

Is Heaven For Real?

Have you had someone you know die recently? Do you wonder what has happened to them? Do you wonder if there truly is a heaven? Or a hell? Thessalonians. 4:13-18 "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  Wherefore comfort one another with these words."
 For many people heaven is some sort of fairytale place on a par with Shangri-la. It is a fantasy that one hopes and wishes for, but there is no substance of reality for them. It is not tangible, therefore it is not really more than a hopeful idea. If they try to picture heaven, they think more in terms of either becoming an angel strumming a harp on a fluffy cloud or just becoming a sort of energy that is part of the fabric of the universe. But what does the Bible tell us about the afterlife?

First of all, we should look to the person who was seen in His afterlife, by people just like us. A tangible evidence of that life's existence and what we have to look forward to. Christ appeared to many people after His resurrection. Did it say that he had grown wings like an angel and was sitting on a fluffy cloud strumming a harp? No. Did it say that His life energy had joined the oneness of the universe? No. When Jesus was resurrected, He had a body that was of a similar nature to the one we have now. It was a corporeal body which could and still can be touched, as evidenced when He had Thomas touch Him. He ate, talked, and walked with his disciples. He was self-aware and thought and had feelings just as He had before dying. He knew all His old friends and interacted with them as He had before death. So He was very much in a body that operated as the one we have now does, but it was far improved over the mortal body we have. It will never age, it will never suffer disease, it will never have corruption of any kind, it will never again die, and it has special capabilities like the ability to appear and disappear at will over long distances, including going from earth to heaven. In short, the resurrected body is perfect in every way. The only thing Christ kept from His first body was the marks in His hands and feet to prove who He was. This should not surprise us, for we are told in 1 Corinthians 15:35-50 that the body we get at the resurrection is the fruit of the seed that was sown when our mortal body dies. Just as a seed is planted in the ground and must die to what it was so that it can become the beautiful plant that has within it the seed of the original, but is far more glorious than the seed, so our bodies will do the same thing in the resurrection. " But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?  Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:  And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:  But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.  All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.  There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.  There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.  So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:  It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:  It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.  And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam (Christ) was made a quickening spirit.  Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.  The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.  And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.  Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.  Paul is telling us that once Adam sinned, and we became corrupted, the only way that we could again enter into the presence of God was to shed the corrupted body by death. This is why God would not let them eat of the tree of life and live forever, for they would have been forever barred from living in the presence of God. Death is the means by which we can enter into the presence of God and live with Him. We must shed the corruption and let it sow the seed for incorruption. 1 Corinthians 15:51-57 "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?  The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

So we know that we will have new bodies at the resurrection and go on living in a similar way to how we have lived this life, thinking, feeling, eating, drinking, doing things. But that is at the resurrection. What of the time between death and that time of resurrection when Christ returns? What happens to those who have belonged to Christ who have died in the interim between His resurrection and the resurrection to come? In Revelation we are told of those who have not yet received a resurrected body. In this case, these particular people are those who were martyred for Christ. Revelation 6:9-11 "And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:  And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?  And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled."  and in Chapter 7 verse 9 we see those whom these martyrs were told they must wait for. "After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;"  Clearly even before receiving resurrected bodies, people have some sort of spiritual bodies which can be seen. They can think, speak, feel, and are as self-aware as we presently are. As Paul has said, there are bodies celestial and bodies terrestrial.

While presently those who die in the Lord go to heaven, upon the resurrection there is a new place awaiting habitation for those with their new perfect bodies. Christ said that He was going to prepare a place for us to live. John 14:1-6 "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.  And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.  Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."

Revelation 21:2  "And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."  Revelation 21:10-27 " And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. (that is 1500 miles in each direction)  And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. (minimum 216 feet) And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life." Notice that the city is a crystalline city 1500 miles in length, width, and height. Pluto is 1474 miles in diameter. It is far too large to rest upon this planet. It is lit by the brightness of the glory of God, and there will be no need for a sun or moon, due to the brightness of its light. We are told that the nations of the world will walk in the light of it. All of these descriptions would seem to indicate that this city is a city that either orbits the earth as does the moon, or stands out in space apart from the planet as does the sun, for being too large to rest upon the planet, and providing light to all the nations of the earth would seem to require this. As we know that Christ ascended into the heavens, and that resurrected bodies would seem to have the ability to transport over distances at an instant, it would seem to be a distinct possibility that this is a satellite city. Very real, very tangible, and very visible. It's distance from the earth would easily prevent anything that could defile it from entering into it. Only those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life will be able to enter it, for their glorified resurrected bodies would have the abilities needed to get there.

This brings us to the crux of the matter. Only those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life will be able to enter into it. What happens to those who have not had their names written in that Book. If the afterlife is as cognizant and self-aware with feelings, and thoughts, and a body as the present world is, what becomes of those who do not get to enter into New Jerusalem?

Mark 9:43-48 "And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:  Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.  And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:  Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.  And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."

Matthew 18:7-9 "Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!  Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.  And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire."

Revelation 20:4,5b, 6, "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years........... This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."  Revelation 20:5a, 7, 10-15"But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished........ And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison...... And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."  Your judgment will come out of one of two books. You will be judged by the Book of Life, or you will be judged out of the Book of Works. Those judged in the first resurrection of the righteous are in the Book of Life. Those judged in the second resurrection are judged by their works, and their works will not get them into heaven. They will be cast into the lake of fire, for justice demands punishment for sin, and if Christ's atonement has not been applied to one's sins, then one must pay for them himself.

There are only two choices for where you spend eternity. Either with the Lord, or in the lake of fire. There is no third choice. This life is when you make the decision as to where you will spend that eternity. If you think you can choose to not make a decision, you are mistaken. To not choose Christ is to reject Him and choose the second resurrection. To be in the first resurrection it demands a decision of your will to follow Christ. 

God has many attributes. He is holy, He is love, He is just, and He is merciful. We want Him to have those qualities, but it is those qualities which keep us apart from Him. To be in His presence requires that we be holy. But we are not capable of it. Isaiah 64:6 “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”Romans 3:10 "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:"  Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" 

For Him to be just, He must punish those sins and transgressions and the punishment for sin is death and an eternity apart from Him. Romans 5:12 "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:"  

God is loving and merciful, but justice prevents mercy, for to provide mercy one must forego justice, but then God would no longer be just. But then if He does not show mercy,  He is not loving. God solved this dilemma by loving us enough to send His only Son to die in our place, so that justice might be served, freeing Him to offer us mercy.  Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Because Christ was holy and perfect, and without sin, He met the standards God required. Because He loved us, He took the punishment for all of our sins and justice was served. Because justice was served, God could then show us His mercy. But the catch is, you have to accept it as God has offered it, on His terms.

Our works will not suffice to pay the penalty for our sins, for our works are as filthy rags. Therefore our justification before God must come from another source. John 3:16-18 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." Romans 5:8 " But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." 

All - every person ever born into this world, with the exception of Christ - have sinned and come short of God's holiness. The only person who could pay the penalty for our sins so that justice might be satisfied and mercy shown to us was Jesus. Acts 4:12 " Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." John 14:6 " Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."  1 Timothy 2:5 "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;"

Many think they can find their own way to God, by following some other religion or person, or being a member of a church. They cannot. Many think they can work their way to heaven. They cannot.   Galatians 2:16 “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Romans 3:28 “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”Ephesians 2:8-9 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."

Justification before God comes one way only. Romans 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Note that it is not the head that must believe, but the heart. James 2:19 " Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." A head belief does not save the devils, nor will it anyone. It requires the heart.

Maintaining that justification up to the time of salvation (upon your death) takes a little more than just confession and belief though. Justification is not a trophy to put up on a shelf and ignore. God wants a relationship with us. He wants us to live a holy life, obedient and sanctified unto Him.  John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commandments.”  Romans 12:2 "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."  1 Peter 1:16 " is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,  And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."

He wants us to run the race and endure all things to the end of our life. Hebrews 12:1 "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,"  2 Timothy 4:7-8 " I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." Matthew 24:13 “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”

We must also do the works God provides for us to do to demonstrate our faith to both Him and the world. James 2:14-26 “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”  The reverse is also true. Works without belief and faith will not suffice. It takes faith first, then God provides us with the works to give evidence of that faith.

Heaven is for real, even more real than the world we know now. Heaven is a hope. A hope that we will once again be reunited with the ones we love, who have gone on before us. This life is the only chance you will have to make sure that you get there.There is no being able to be neutral, there is no "not choosing."  To not choose God and Christ is to actively reject God and choose eternal fire. Heaven is for real, but we have to choose it.

Addendum: For those who wonder about babies and little children, the Scriptures indicate that they are with the Lord. When David's baby died, he said that he would one day go to meet that child. Before there is an awareness, babies cannot be guilty of rejecting God, so they are covered by the blood of the Lamb. Christ loves little children. He would never cast them into the fire when they have never had the opportunity to accept or reject Him. They have in essence, kept the Ten Commandments perfectly.