Introduction: When I see the gruesome picture of the Japanese Christian being beheaded by Isis, I think of a poem by Jason McBride:
“The morning air thickens with lilac and I am like this fly who strains against its net prison. The web, strung taut between waxy leaves, catches sunlight in dew drop prism pockets—a beautiful death.
With a thousand eyes he marvels at the finely wrought tapestry — even while he trembles at his certain end — to be devoured this early hour of his life-span: a day.
Quite unlike the attic’s dark corners, where cobwebs, over baked in stale summer heat, sag with the weight of dust.
I’ve seen a hollowed fly carcass dangle there, gazing up at bare rafters with a thousand empty stares.”
If that is all you see, a hollow fly caught in the Isis web, you must look again and look higher. God has AWESOMELY GOOD NEWS for you in the midst of such a bloody, bad, and butchering world.
I. THE DOOR OF DEATH – NOW THE GATE OF HEAVEN
-You and I must understand today, as in no other day, that CHRISTIANS INDEED HAVE ETERNAL VICTORY IN DEATH.
-Jesus Christ said to Mary and Martha in John 11:25-26,
“I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE, HE
THAT BELIEVETH IN ME, THOUGH HE WERE
DEAD, YET SHALL HE LIVE.”
“AND, WHOSOEVER LIVETH AND BELIEVETH IN ME
SHALL NEVER DIE….BELIEVEST THOU THIS?”
-You and I must understand something so very powerful at the outset:
1. When JESUS CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS, AND ROSE AGAIN FROM THE DEAD!
2. Jesus Christ for the BELIEVER – BELIEVEST THOU THIS: “ABOLISHED, ERASED, AND DESTROYED DEATH.” – I Timothy 1:10
3. “O DEATH, WHERE IS THY STING, O GRAVE, WHERE IS THY VICTORY.” – I Corinthians15:5
4. “HE THAT LIVETH AND BELIEVETH IN ME SHALL NEVER DIE.” – John 11:26
-When you take all these things together:
a. We find THAT CHRISTIANS DON’T REALLY DIE like unbelievers die!
b. For you see, we read in Romans 6:23,
“FOR THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH, BUT THE GIFT OF
GOD IS ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST
-Christians no longer die AS A SIN RELATED REALITY!
-That HAS BEEN ABOLISHED, DESTROYED, CONQUERED, never DIE!
-Rather, DEATH IS NOW A SERVANT IN THE HOUSE OF GOD!
-To SIMPLY ESCORT US INTO THE VERY PRESENCE OF GOD!
-DEATH, THE DOOR OF DEATH, IS NOW THE GATE OF HEAVEN!
-DEATH NOW IS SIMPLY THE DOOR FROM ONE WORLD TO ANOTHER!
-And Jesus said in Revelation 1:18,
“I HAVE THE KEYS OF DEATH, I HAVE THE KEYS
TO THAT DOOR.”
c. Don’t you for one minute:
-Think that WHEN A CHRISTIAN, A BELIEVER FALLS ASLEEP.
-Even if it was a DEATH as the world calls it, AN ACCIDENT, A DISEASE, or a brutal MARTYRDOM.
–Don’t think for A MOMENT THAT THE DEVIL, or SOME UNKNOWN IMPERSONAL FORCE came AND GOT THAT PERSON, KILLED THAT PERSON, FOR THE DEVIL DOESN’T HAVE THE KEYS.
-JESUS said in Revelation 1:18,
“I HAVE THE KEYS TO UNLOCK THE DOOR FROM
YOUR HOUSE TO MY FATHER’S HOUSE.”
“JESUS PAID FOR THOSE KEYS WITH HIS VERY
II. NO LONGER MORTAL
-NOW WE NO LONGER USE THE WORD “MORTAL.”
-NOW, WE NO LONGER USE THE WORDS “ONLY HUMAN.”
1. We read these words in II Peter 1:4,
“WHEREBY ARE WE GIVEN EXCEEDING PRECIOUS
PROMISES, THAT BY THESE YE ARE BECOME
PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE,
HAVING ESCAPED THE CORRUPTION
THAT IS IN THE WORLD
-You know what a SYLLOGISM IS IN LOGIC, don’t you?!
-It is a TOOL IN LOGIC TO ESTABLISH TRUTH!
-It has A MAJOR PREMISE, MINOR PREMISE, CONCLUSION.
-MAJOR PREMISE: “TO ERR, SIN, GOOF UP IS HUMAN”.
-MINOR PREMISE: “I AM HUMAN”
-CONCLUSION: “THEREFORE, I WILL CONTINUE TO SIN, ERR, GOOF UP.”
-What’s wrong with that syllogism? THE MINOR PREMISE, “I’M HUMAN.”
-You see, we are NOT JUST, ONLY, HUMAN, we are PARTAKERS OF DIVINITY.
-WE ARE DIVINE NATURES, ETERNAL NATURES, INCAPABLE OF SINNING!
-It’s when we GIVE IN TO OUR OLD NATURE, THAT WE SIN!
“WE ARE CAPABLE OF INCREDIBLY VICTORIOUS LIVES
IN JESUS CHRIST.”
2. Again, we read these words in II Timothy 1:10,
“THAT JESUS HATH ABOLISHED DEATH, AND HATH
BROUGHT TO LIGHT LIFE (ZOE) and IMMORTALITY
THROUGH THE GOSPEL.”
-You see, not only are CHRISTIANS NOT JUST HUMAN, neither are we MERE MORTALS.
-MORTAL means SUBJECT TO DEATH, FATAL, DEADLY, ETC!
-The Gospel of Jesus Christ has now cast out all that darkness!
3. Jesus has turned the LIGHT OF THE GOSPEL ON:
a. LIFE – ZOE, a whole new way of living! GOD’S LIFE!
b. IMMORTALITY – DESTINED TO LIVE, NOT MORTAL, IMMORTALITY if you will, IMPERISHABLE!
4. Now you see:
“WE ARE IN CHRIST IMMORTAL BEINGS, AND WE
a. OUR SPIRITS, NATURES have been made IMMORTAL, DIVINE!
b. One day at the RESURRECTION, OUR BODIES SHALL ALSO BE MADE IMMORTAL.
c. We read in I Corinthians. 15:53-54,
“FOR THIS CORRUPTIBLE MUST PUT ON INCORRUPTION,
AND THIS MORTAL MUST PUT ON IMMORTALITY.”
1. WE ARE PARTAKERS OF DIVINITY – not just human!
2. WE ARE IMMORTAL BEINGS – not just mortals!
III. NO FEAR OF DEATH
-You know, all because of this:
a. CHRISTIANS DON’T FEAR DEATH ANY LONGER!
b. We read in Hebrews 2:14-15,
“INASMUCH THEN AS THE CHILDREN ARE PARTAKERS
OF FLESH AND BLOOD, HE ALSO HIMSELF LIKEWISE
PARTOOK OF THE SAME, THAT THROUGH DEATH
HE MIGHT DESTROY HIM THAT HAD THE
POWER OF DEATH, THAT IS THE DEVIL.”
“AND DELIVER THEM WHO THROUGH THE FEAR OF
DEATH WERE ALL THEIR LIFETIME SUBJECT
-We know that there are TWO KINDS OF PEOPLE IN THE WORLD:
“BELIEVERS and UNBELIEVERS.”
-So, it follows you can put it in another way:
“THOSE FEARFUL OF DEATH ARE UNBELIEVERS,
AND THOSE UNFEARFUL OF DEATH
-Oh yes, before Christ, we were fearful of many things:
a. Fear of Water – Fear of drowning (no swim).
b. Fear of Flying – fear of crashing (no airplanes).
c. Fear of Riding – fear of accident (no long trips).
d. Fear of storms – fear of lightning (no look at lightning)
-That’s what Hebrews means:
“WHO THROUGH FEAR OF DEATH WERE ALL THEIR
LIFETIME SUBJECT TO BONDAGE.”
-But now THROUGH CHRIST,
“CHRISTIANS ARE DELIVERED FROM FEAR AND
a. BELIEVERS, SHOULD NOT AND ARE FULLY ABLE TO NOT FEAR DEATH.
b. UNBELIEVERS may or may not fear death, depending on character!
“THE DEVIL WILL GIVE BELIEVERS A FALSE FEAR, AND
THE DEVIL WILL ALSO GIVE UNBELIEVERS A
-May I SUGGEST TO YOU TODAY that that FEAR IS REALLY APPREHENSION!
-NOT TERROR, but the Christian is A BIT APPREHENSIVE!
-After all, WE ARE ALL A BIT APPREHENSIVE ABOUT CHANGE:
a. It’s HARD FOR US TO MOVE, CHANGE ENVIRONMENTS, FRIENDS, HOME, ETC.
b. It’s hard FOR US TO CHANGE SCHOOLS, CHURCHES, moving is tough!
c. Let alone LOOSING OUR BODIES, AND CHANGING WORLDS!
-Oh, Yes, it is true, I know:
a. And to think of FOR A WHILE, TO LOOSE MY BODY, I’M SO USED TO IT!
b. Sometimes, I WOULD DITCH IT GIVE IT AWAY ! Sell it for 5 cents!
c. OH YES, I know THAT WE ARE NOT BODIES, WE ARE SPIRITS:
-We are SPIRITS, WHO HAVE SOULS, AND WHO LIVE IN BODIES!
-The SPIRIT IS NOW HOUSED IN DUST, CLAY, but WE ARE NOT BODIES!
-That’s why I like to look behind the eyes, to the PERSON WHO IS IN THERE!
-PEAK behind the WINDOWS, to the person inside there.
-A SPIRITUAL WINDOW PEEKER!
d. This is why CHRISTIANS AND NON CHRISTIANS can never really be one!
-Oh, we CAN BE AS HUSBAND AND WIFE ON THE BODY AND SOUL LEVEL!
-We can unite bodies, and exchange ideas, some agreeable, some disagreeable.
-But, WE CAN NEVER UNITE SPIRITUALLY on the SPIRIT LEVEL! (God awareness.)
e. BUT BACK TO THE THOUGHT OF APPREHENSION:
-I am so used to my body, and me as A DISEMBODIED SPIRIT causes APPREHENSION!
-I understand that IT’S CHANGE, something brand new!
-Oh there have been occasions WHEN PEOPLE’S SPIRITS HAVE LEFT their BODIES.
-Paul writes about himself in II Corinthians 12:2,
“I KNEW A MAN IN CHRIST ABOUT 14 YEARS AGO,
WHETHER IN THE BODY, I CANNOT TELL,
OR WHETHER OUT OF THE BODY, I
CANNOT TELL, GOD KNOWETH,
SUCH A ONE CAUGHT UP
TO THE THIRD
“WHATEVER HAPPENED, IT WAS SO HEAVENLY
THAT EARTH BECOMES UNREAL!”
-But even Paul elsewhere TALKS ABOUT APPREHENSION:
a. He talks about it in all candor in II Corinthians 5:1-4.
b. Paul there talks about really WANTING THE RAPTURE BEFORE THE BODY SLEEPS.
c. He would receive HIS IMMORTAL BODY INSTANTLY, not a disembodied spirit.
d. THE IDEA OF LAYING THIS BODY ASIDE, AND AWAIT IN HEAVEN A NEW BODY!
e. That caused him a bit apprehension! II Corinthians 5:3,
“BEING CLOTHED, SO WE WON’T BE
f. He WAS A BIT APPREHENSIVE there about losing this BODY and in that sense being NAKED!
g. But it wasn’t FEAR, TERROR, HORROR or any such thing.
e. Yes, apprehensive, we understand that, BUT EVEN GOD TAKES THAT AWAY.
-I have seen many AN OLDER SAINT, really have no DESIRE TO KEEP THIS BODY.
-When THE THOUGHT ABOUT WHO THEY WERE GOING TO SEE, WHERE THEY WOULD BE!
-That OLD BODY BECOMES A BURDEN, BUT THE DESIRE TO SEE JESUS TOTALLY OVER SHADOWS APPREHENSION.
-My OWN DAD, bless his heart, in the hour of his death, said,
“MY SON, I JUST WANT TO GO HOME.”
-Paul said in II Corinthians 5:8,
“WE ARE CONFIDENT, I SAY AND WILLING RATHER TO
BE ABSENT FROM THE BODY, AND TO BE PRESENT
WITH THE LORD.”
In commenting on John 11 Frederick Buechner once pointed out that sometimes people who go through so-called “NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES” profess to not being completely happy that the doctors pulled them back. Many have said that they saw a bright figure standing in the light and that they wanted to approach that figure but were cut off when a HEART DEFIBRILLATOR yanked them back to this world. For them it felt less like “NEAR DEATH” and more like “NEAR LIFE.”
Well, as Buechner imagined it, maybe that bright afternoon in Bethany when LAZARUS emerged, blinking into the Palestine sunshine, only to see Jesus standing there in the light, maybe Lazarus was at first not sure which side of death he was on! Was he WALKING TOWARD ETERNITY or BACK TOWARD EARTH?
I recall as if it were yesterday that a dear brother in Christ in my first pastorate died and went to Heaven, and then was sent back to earth as an angel explained to him that God had still more work for him to do down here. When I greeted Chuck in the hospital after his return to earth, he looked at me and said with heaven-filled words, “Pastor, I am so disappointed to see you again.” Frankly, it was all so overwhelming to Chuck – he was having trouble determining whether he was COMING OR GOING.
V. BUT WHY NOT TAKE THIS BODY TO HEAVEN WITH US?
-Well, MAX FACTOR, HUGH HEFNER, AND HELEN GURLY BROWN WOULDN’T LIKE THIS!
-But, the REASON WE CAN’T TAKE THIS BODY TO HEAVEN is that it is NO GOOD TO US THERE:
a. This body HAS CORRUPTION, and no corruption is allowed there! (Imperfect)
-That’s why Paul says in I Corinthians 15:53,
“THIS CORRUPTIBLE MUST PUT
b. This body HAS WEAKNESSES, and no WEAKNESS IS ALLOWED THERE!
-We will need a POWERFUL BODY TO FULFILL HEAVEN’S PERFECTION.
-We will need a “POWERFUL MIND TO DRINK IN AND ENJOY HEAVEN’S GLORY AND MYSTERIES.”
-This body will be of no use to US THERE! WE WILL NEED GLORIFIED BODIES THERE!
VI. DEATH A DEPARTURE
-Turn to II Timothy 4:6,
“FOR I AM NOW READY TO BE OFFERED, AND THE
TIME OF MY DEPARTURE IS AT HAND.”
-Paul is READY TO BE OFFERED, SACRIFICED, MARTYRED FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!:
a. Paul regarded HIS ENTIRE LIFE AS AN OFFERING TO GOD!
b. His bloody death is BUT AN OFFERING COMPLETING HIS LIFE AS A SACRIFICE TO THE LORD.
c. Whatever his form of DEATH, IT WOULD BE SACRIFICIAL, i.e. BLOOD SHEDDING!
-Paul then CALLS DEATH A DEPARTURE, THAT’S WHAT I WANT YOU TO SEE, Verse 6,
“THE TIME OF MY DEPARTURE IS AT HAND.”
-The word DEPARTURE in the Greek is “ANALYSIS!”
-It is a Word THAT MEANS,
“CASTING OFF, UNLOOSING.”
-It’s A WORD USED FOR SHIPS GOING OFF AND AWAY TO SEA!
-In fact, it might be better translated in Verse 6,
“THE TIME OF MY CASTING OFF IS AT HAND.”
-THE DAY, if you will:
a. When THE CAPTAIN OF OUR SALVATION THROWS off the ropes!
b. When THE ANCHOR IS PULLED AND I LEAVE EARTH FOR PORT HEAVEN!
c. AND LIKE THE DISCIPLES, ON A TROUBLED SEA, PAUL WILL BE IMMEDIATELY THERE.
d. ALL IT IS FOR CHRISTIAN IS PULLING OUT OF MY SLIP ON EARTH’S SHORES.
e. And SAILING ON TO PORT HEAVEN as CAPTAIN JESUS GIVES THE ANGEL THE SIGNALS TO CAST OFF.
-Do you understand, do you get it TIMOTHY?:
a. WHAT YOU SEE AS DEATH IS ME BEING LAUNCHED TO GLORY!
b. My captain Jesus IS SETTING ME SAIL FOR MY NATIVE HOMELAND!
-AND NOTICE IN VERSE 6 THE WORDS,
“THE TIME OF MY DEPARTURE!”
1. It is the WORD IN Greek “KAIRUS” – means FIXED, SET TIME.
2. It is the same word used by Jesus in Mark 13:32-33,
“BUT OF THAT DAY, AND THAT HOUR, KNOWETH NO
MAN, NO NOT THE ANGELS WHICH ARE IN HEAVEN,
NEITHER THE SON, BUT THE FATHER.”
“TAKE HEED, WATCH AND PRAY FOR YE KNOW NOT
WHEN THE KAIRUS IS.”
VII. CHRISTIAN DEPARTURES IN A GROWING MUSLIM WORLD
First Century Christians lived in a bloody Roman World. Twenty First Century Christians live in a bloody and an ever- growing Muslim World.
States Mike Oppenheimer of Let us Reason Ministries in an article entitled Living In The New World Order:
“Howard Dean who was almost president, said on the Morning Joe program: “I stopped calling these people Muslim terrorists, they’re about as Muslim as I am.” He then called them a cult, which is as obvious as bozo’s nose.
So every murderer where someone says “allah akbar” they are not Muslim? Why make excuses for these murderers? In the name of what religion needs to be said? But they refuse to point to the religion, as if there is no apparent reason they kill. You can’t be a terrorist and a Muslim at the same time according to the liberal intelligentsia.
The fact that we are going toward 25,000 attacks from Muslim aggressors since 9/11 does not seem to fit into their narrative. The first World Trade Center Bombers were Muslims; The September 11th 2001 Airline Hijackers were Muslims; The Achille Lauro Cruise Ship Hijackers were Muslims; The Shoe Bomber was a Muslim; The Beltway Snipers were Muslims; The Fort Hood Shooter was a Muslim; The Underwear Bomber was a Muslim; The U-S.S. Cole Bombers were Muslims; The Madrid Train Bombers were Muslims; The Bafi Nightclub Bombers were Muslims; The London Subway Bombers were Muslims; The Moscow Theatre Attackers were Muslims; The Boston Marathon Bombers were Muslims;
The Pan-Am Flight #93 Bombers were Muslim; The Air France Entebbe Hijackers were Muslim; The Iranian Embassy takeover was by Muslims; The Beirut U.S. Embassy bombers were Muslims; The Libyan U.S. Embassy Attack was by Muslims; The Buenos Aires Suicide Bombers were Muslims; The Israeli Olympic Team Attackers were Muslims; The Kenyan U.S. Embassy Bombers were Muslims; The Saudi, Khobar Towers Bombers were Muslims; The Beirut Marine Barracks bombers were Muslims; The Besian Russian School Attackers were Muslims; The Bombay and Mumbai India Attackers were Muslims, etc. Not to be concerned since we must learn to co-exist with all religions, even a religion that is being represented by its violence, not peace
Not all Muslims are like these bloodthirsty aggressors. The King of Jordan recently spoke of unity of Muslims, Christians and other religions defeating ISIS (couldn’t quite bring himself to say Jews). Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia Is Building A 600-Mile ‘Great Wall’ to Shield Itself From ISIS. Now we have Muslims resisting and fighting the Muslim aggressors with others. We have Muslims more concerned, more than we are!
Islamists can go far beyond the Nazis who killed 15 million, 6 million of them Jews. We are watching a growing holocaust that will surpass all others. More than Mao (40 million) or Stalin. ISIS is not the end all, this is just warming up. What is coming will shock and shake the world. According to Walid Shoebat, the ISIS’ manifesto says they will kill 10 million Americans. ISIS plans to head into Europe along with other organized Islamist radicals. The removal of Christians from Middle East countries and Africa will continue as Satan’s end-times army is being gathered.
Then there is us, the U.S. From the mouth of a Palestinian political researcher: “We pray that Allah will enable the Muslims to wage war on America and against its true terrorism. May He grant victory to the Muslims, and may they raid America on its own land and the land of heresy everywhere.” (Abu Hanza, February 18, 2015, Al-Aqsa Mosque)
Elimination is always a process and takes time and dedication to murder those who believe different than you. 21wilberforce.org reports: Today there are less than ten known elderly Jews living in Iraq. An oft-repeated refrain remains grimly germaine:
“First the Saturday People, then the Sunday People.”
A group of leading Christian religious leaders representing thousands of adherents lamented:
“This is not just the end of Christianity but the end of our
ethnicity who have lived here for thousands of years.
We believe this is genocide.”
We watch the parents of captives plead for their children’s lives. They called God the most merciful but we do not see mercy, we see murder from those most zealous for their God and Caliphate. They prove by their actions their God is not merciful. Why do people not see it? There is a spiritual component to this, the mystery of iniquity is at work, when the restraining is fully lifted, watch out!
ISIS beheaded four children in Iraq after they refused to convert to Islam. By Russell Myers, Dec 08, 2014 – Islamic State turned up and said to the children, you say the words that you will follow Mohammed. The children, all under 15, four of them, said no, we love Yesua, we have always loved Yesua, we have always followed Yesua. Yesua has always been with us.” “They said, ‘Say the words,’ They said, ‘No, we can’t’ They chopped all their heads off.” (End of Oppenheimer quote.)
-We must never forget those four children who exalted Christ in the face of death. It was their so early HOUR OF DEPARTURE. Satan is an equal opportunity murderer.
-This is not a SHORT SUBJECT. We are not watching a FEATURE FILM. This is reality and now defines our world and will to the end of time.
-And as you see the four child-Christians and their heads falling to the ground, you can see a black demonic form receding into the distance, laughing scornfully.
-We must never forget Paul’s HOUR OF DEPARTURE:
a. Can’t you see it, the aged Paul, the great man of God!
b. Bound in prison, waiting for the time of execution!
c. In just a matter of moments, the executioner’s sword will fall!
d. And after giving this letter to be sent to Timothy by a friend.
e. The Roman Soldier comes in and ushered Paul to the place of execution?
f. Nero HAD SO ORDERED IT, PAUL SHALL BE PUT TO DEATH!
g. And as the STEEL FLASHED AND THE SWORD CAME DOWN UPON HIS NECK:
“IT’S THE FIXED TIME SET BY MY CAPTAIN JESUS!“
-And what LOOKS LIKE EXECUTION, IS BUT THE CUTTING OF MY ANCHOR.
-And LIKE A SHIP NOW TIED TO EARTH, I SET SAIL FOR GLORY, FREE!
-We DON’T STOP LIVING, WE SIMPLY SAIL AWAY INTO GOD’S GLORY!
-I have never been through THE DOOR, Paul had been, called away into the third heaven.
-And Paul says, it is not DEFEAT, DEPLETION, DEFLATION, or anything like that.
-Rather in Philippians 1:21,
“FOR ME TO LIVE IS CHRIST, AND TO
DIE IS GAIN.”
-Rather in II Corinthians 5:8,
“TO BE ABSENT FROM THE BODY, AND TO BE
PRESENT WITH THE LORD.”
–Acts 7:60 Stephen falls asleep:
-Stephen saw the Lord standing at Father’s right hand!
-First ONE YOU SHALL SEE!
-See Him WHO IS WONDERFUL, COUNSELOR, MIGHTY GOD, EVERLASTING FATHER, PRINCE OF PEACE!
-Then finally we shall be fully like Him forever and ever. Amen!