Joy Unspeakable!

Some people just never seem to have any authentic joy in their lives.  Oh, they might experience happiness, but joy and happiness aren’t the same.  Some people just seem to fret all the time about the negative, “dark” aspects of life, and never seem to find God’s true joy for their lives.  Are YOU one of those people who never seem to experience true joy?

Put another way:  deep at your core are you a Happy Person?  Unhappy?  Joy-full?  How do your family and friends perceive your core character and nature?  You and God are the only ones who really know the answers to such questions.  But you are also the only one who can make the decision to be basically a happy, unhappy, or joy-full person.  You weren’t born those ways.  You get to choose!  It doesn’t just occur by magic sometime during your life—that you turn out to be happy, unhappy, or joy-full!  No, at some point in time, you choose whether or not to be basically a happy person, an unhappy person, or a person full of joy!

Another way of putting it:  Throughout your day-to-day life, do you generally enjoy  life?  Enjoy is just a little word; “en” in front of a word means to “put in.”  For example encourage means to put courage into a person’s life.  So, enjoy means to put joy into your life.  Holy Spirit wants to put his own joy into your life.  I hope this teaching will help you receive Holy Spirit’s deep, abiding joy into your life if you need it. 

Here’s my very first major statement for this teaching:  happiness and joy are not the same!  Not even close.  Poles apart.  They have nothing to do with one another.  Never confuse the two.  They’re not the same in the Bible.  They’re not the same in real life.

In the entire Bible, the word “happy” occurs only 26 times in English.  The word “joy” and its derivatives (such as joyful, rejoice) occurs over 300 times, and the definitions of “happy” and “joy” are not even close.  “Happy” is defined as “a feeling or emotion of pleasure”—feeling and emotionbeing the operative words. 

“joy” is a word that’s not quite so easy to define.  First, it’s not a feeling or an emotion—NEVER.  The Bible defines JOY as “a state of abiding, underlying satisfaction in my growing relationship with God and resolving to fully cooperate with God in joint, JOYful control of my life.”  (Repeat)

Happy

Let’s look first at the “rubber hits the road” additional definitions of the feelings or emotions of “Happy.”  First, “happy” (or unhappy) depends on “happenings.”  A good happening generally makes us feel happy.  A bad happening generally makes us feel unhappy.  And…it is always a feeling or an emotion.  As you know, our feelings or emotions are constantly changing:  sometimes we’re “up” and happy.  Sometimes we’re “down” and unhappy.  And that can change almost from one minute to the next.  Our feelings and emotions are like roller coasters or merry-go-rounds at a carnival.  Whatever is happening at a given moment causes us to feel happy or unhappy.

The advertising industry knows this all too well.  Most television commercials, radio ads, and printed ads are selling something that appeals to our emotions and feelings.  For example:  Buying this vehicle will make you happy.  Eating this food will make you happy.  If you don’t have this type of phone, you will be unhappy.  Our insurance will make you happy.  This shampoo will make your hair shine and you’ll be happy.  Wearing these shoes will make you happy and accepted by your friends.  And on and on and on the advertising goes.  Have you noticed that such advertising very seldom, if ever, suggests their products will give you joy—merely happiness.

Keep this in mind, however:  God created each of us with a wide range of emotions and feelings.  Our emotions are legitimate; God gave them to us.  Let yourself feel all your emotions as they surface.  BUT, learn to bring them under control of Holy Spirit, and never, never, never make important decisions based solely on your emotions!  Train yourself (with Holy Spirit’s inner power) not to live your life primarily by your emotions and feelings, but by your will. 

Some of you never experience God’s deep-seated JOY because you let your emotions run wild and free, and don’t bring them under God’s control.  God is not going to harm you if you surrender control of your emotions to Him.  Psalm 119: 68 declares:    “God is altogether good and absolutely everything He does is good.”  God will always do ultimate good for you when you surrender your emotions to his control.

[NOTE:  Throughout this teaching, when I give biblical references, I will be quoting from The Passion Translation or using my own paraphrases based upon the original languages in which the Bible was written.]

Joy

On the other hand, joy has nothing to do with happenings or with our feelings and emotions.  Joy is one of the fruits of Holy Spirit listed in Galatians 5: 22 and 23; here’s how they’re listed in The Passion Translation:  “God’s divine love, overflowing JOY, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life lived with goodness, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, and strength of spirit.”

You might want to contrast and compare these fruits of Holy Spirit with some of the fruits of evil originating in human hearts as stated by Jesus in Mark 7: 21 and 22:  “Evil schemes, sexual immorality, theft, murder, greed, treachery, jealousy, gossip, slander, and arrogance.”  Of course, there are many other fruits of both Holy Spirit and of human, evil nature mentioned throughout the entire Bible, especially the New Testament.

How do we get joy, and what does joy do for us?  First, joy originates with Holy Spirit and is part of his core nature.  We cannot conjure up joy or produce joy for ourselves.  We can’t grit our teeth and create our own joy.  When Jesus is invited into our lives in his unbodied form of Holy Spirit, joy is part of the package we receive along with forgiveness of our sin, cleansing from our sin, a new life, hunger for the Bible, hope for both this life and the future life, a future home in Jesus’ coming Kingdom, a growing, eternal relationship with Father God through Jesus—and a host of other named and unnamed abundant benefits mentioned throughout the Bible.  We begin an entirely new, eternal life, and Holy Spirit’s joy is part of the package.  

joy is a deep, settled, satisfying, and abiding fruit of Holy Spirit within us, and as the old song says, “The world doesn’t give it, and the world can’t take it away.”  Having Holy Spirit’s joy doesn’t necessarily mean we go through our days with silly grins on our faces, laughing, smiling, or feeling hilarious or giddy all the time, being humorous every waking moment, or saying only joyful things.  It’s resolving once and for all to have a deep, settled, satisfactory relationship with Father God through Jesus.

Happy is an emotion or feeling that can change like the blowing, unseen winds.  Joy is an unchanging fruit of Holy Spirit within us.  We obtain Holy Spirit’s joy by an act of our will.  What is our human will?  It is the power of controlling our own thoughts and behavior with the inner power of Holy Spirit.  It is to make quality, rock-solid decisions that remain fixed and unchanging, no matter the circumstances. 

Your will is deeper than mere wishes, much deeper inside you than your emotions.  It’s your inner self—your core self—that makes decisions, and controls what you do and who you are.  Your emotions are not that deep inner self.  Your will is the source of all your actions and behavior.  Your emotions should be the “servants” of your will, which is the inner controller of who you are.

Many people experience unrest and confusion in their relationship with God simply because they allow their ever-changing emotions to govern their lives instead of their wills.  God has given you inner power to control your emotions, and inner power to exercise your will under his control.  It’s actually a type of “joint control”—you and God cooperating in the control of your will.  We each have inner power to acquire God’s own joy by using our wills!

Here is Jesus’ example of great joyas we read in Hebrews 12: 2:  “Jesus birthed faith within us and leads us to ‘grow’ our faith.  His example is this:  Because his heart and will were focused on the JOY ahead of Him, He endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and now sits at the right hand of God’s throne.”

Psalm 40: 8 tells us of what our response to Jesus’ joy in fulfilling Father God’s will should be:  “I take joy in doing your will, my God.”  One reason many people do not experience Holy Spirit’s deep, abiding joy within them is because their response to God was an emotional response, not a response of their will.  That’s why some believers in Jesus seemingly fall away and leave Him—then have to continually renew their commitment to Him.  In other words, they seem to get “born again again and again and again,” and never seem to quite begin growing and maturing in a solid, ever-growing relationship with God.

For that matter, why does it seem that many people are afraid of surrendering themselves or consecrating themselves to follow God’s will for their lives—as though God might somehow mess up their lives or make them do something they don’t want to do or go somewhere they don’t want to go.  Our Father’s very nature and character is love; He won’t mess up our lives.  He never has, and never will!  If our lives get messed up, it’s because we haven’t turned over our lives to God by an act of our will, and we’ve just chosen to live our own self-absorbed and self-centered lives, instead of God-centered lives.

We need to make our decisions about our relationship with God as an act of our wills, not our emotions.  Then we shall begin to experience the reality of Nehemiah 8: 10:  “The joy of God is my strength.”   Yes, there are down-times in all our lives; yes, there are dark periods in our lives; yes, there are periods of grief, mourning, and sorrow.  Psalm 30: 5:  “We may weep through the night, but at daybreak it will turn into ecstatic joy.”

Listen to David in Psalm 51: 12 as he re-consecrated himself to God by an act of his will after he had sinned on one occasion:  “Let my passion for life be restored, tasting joy in every breakthrough You bring to me.  Hold me close to You because my spirit is WILLING to obey whatever You tell me to do.”

What About Happiness and Joy in MY Life?

Parts of my childhood were fairly happy—with some episodes of unhappiness mixed with happiness.  I honestly don’t remember ever experiencing authentic joy as a child or young person, nor to the best of my memory did I ever observe true joy in another person; maybe I did, but just didn’t recognize it. 

At age 18 I invited Jesus to take up permanent residence in my life in his unbodied form of Holy Spirit.  Joy began to flow into my life as a result, because Holy Spirit’s joy is part of the package of receiving Jesus.  However, during my adult life I have experienced 3 episodes of deep mental depression, one of them lasting for 6 long years! 

I don’t know why I had depression, I’m so grateful God healed me, and I never want to have depression again.  During those periods of depression, I don’t believe I lost Holy Spirit’s joy:  it simply went underground, in a manner of speaking, as the mental depression suppressed Holy Spirit’s joy within my spirit.  Since my last period of depression ended in 2008, I have once again experienced honest, ongoing joy from Holy Spirit. 

Bible Indicators and Expressions of Joy

Now I want us to begin looking at and examining other expressions and situations of joy in the Bible.  Let’s begin by looking briefly at joy in the life of Jesus.  First, we’ve already examined Jesus’ great joy when He faced the cross, knowing what was in store for Him after the cross.  Here’s John 15: 11:  “These things I have told you about Me being the vine and you being the branches are true; our Father wants me to bear much fruit through you.  I have told you these things so you will have my true joy, and so that it may be full and overflowing in you, and that you will never be without my joy”

Let’s look at joy in our lives as a result of our relationship with Father through Jesus and Holy Spirit.  This is only a small sampling of biblical references about joyGod gives to us—from over 300 references in the Bible.  Here’s a general promise of joyfor not only Jesus-believers, but for all people; Luke 2: 10:  “Then the angel said to the shepherds, ‘don’t be afraid, for I have been sent by God to bring you good news of great joy for everyone everywhere.’”

Psalm 16: 11:  “God, You will guide me along right paths to take during my life.  When I’m with You, I’m full of joy.  At your right hand—[where Jesus sits on his throne beside You]—is full and complete joy.”   Here’s Psalm 30: 5:  “We may have sorrow, and weep for various reasons—often during the night—but at daybreak it will turn into ecstatic joy!”

The ancient prophet Isaiah had much to say about joy:  “God, You are my salvation; I will trust You and not be afraid, for You are my inner strength and give me songs.  With joy I will pull up buckets of living water from your well of salvation.”  Isaiah 12: 2, 3.   Isaiah says this, too:  “God’s redeemed people will return to Him…with singing; they will experience everlasting joy in their spirits and minds; they shall have joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing will flee from them.”  Is iah 35: 10. 

Finally, Isaiah promises this to God’s people:  “God consoles those who mourn…and gives them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, clothing of praise replaces their spirit of heaviness…”  Isaiah 61: 3.

Listen to the Apostle Paul in Romans 14: 17:  “For the Kingdom of God is not about religious rules…, but is about living with Holy Spirit, filled with right-living, peace, and joy.”  Romans 15: 13:  “Now may God, the Source and Fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in Him.  And may the power of Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his superabundance until you radiate with hope [and joy].”

Hear what James has to say about joy in his book of the Bible:  “My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties, see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can!  For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up Holy Spirit’s power within you to endure all things.”  James 1: 2

Finally, here’s what Peter wrote:  “You love Jesus passionately although you cannot see Him, but through believing in Him you are saturated with ecstatic joy, indescribably sublime and immersed in glory.  For you are reaping the harvest of your faith—the full salvation promised you.”  1 Peter 1: 7, 8

Faith

That last reference by Peter mentions “faith.”  Where does faith come into play in this matter of acquiring Holy Spirit’s joy?  Our faith is how we receive JOY from Holy Spirit; it is how we acquire Holy Spirit’s abiding, sustaining joy as a rock-solid anchor for our lives.  At this point, you may be thinking to yourself that other people seem to have more faith than you do, or that you just never seem to have faith—or enough faith—to accomplish anything, or have anything in relation to God.

That is categorically not true.  It’s a lie you have come to believe.  The Bible is very clear in stating that God has given faith to every human being.  That’s in Romans 12: 3.  The Bible’s own definition of faith is found in Hebrews chapter 11.  Faith, though unseen, has substance, a solid quality to it.  It is a real thing, a real entity—just as other unseen things such as air, atoms, and molecules are real and have substance.  Yes, the Bible says faith has real substance.  And you have faith!

Faith is very real.  It’s not sort of wispy, unreal hope, wishful thinking, or vague belief you either have or don’t have. It’s real, it has substance, though unseen, and God has given you faith, custom-tailored just for you.  So…you cannot honestly say you don’t have faith.  You do.  It’s not your faith itself that’s the issue; it’s what you do with it.

Using your faith is nothing more than trusting and believing God when He says He either has done something for you or will do it.  I’ll bet you probably have no difficulty in believing God is capable of managing all his vast creation, and yet you find it hard to believe that He is able to give you his own joy!

It comes down to a matter of using your faith, releasing your faith.  Your faith is of no value to you if you just keep it bottled up inside you and don’t use it or exercise it.  It’s the object or focus of your faith that is important.  You can keep your faith to yourself, or you can use it by focusing it on God and releasing it to “activate” God in your life, in a manner of speaking.  Our faith brings things into reality—if we use it, and if we release it to God.  It brings unseen things into our realm of sight and reality.  Faith brings us joy if we release our faith to Holy Spirit, asking Him to give us his joy and “operate” it in our lives.

Let me speak of faith another way.  There is much more to our lives that what we experience with our outer five senses.  What we perceive with our senses is nothing more than the tiny tip of an iceberg.  The real parts of our lives lie unseen, mostly hidden, but really gigantic and shining and beautiful in their hiddenness.  Faith is part of that unseen, but very real, part of our lives.  Use your faith to acquire Holy Spirit’s joy!

I begin to close with this:  The rest of your life could be the best of your life, full of unspeakable and uncontainable joy, and great purpose and adventure—as my life has been!  You get to choose.  And, our human joy comes directly to us from the laughter and joy of the Trinity—Father, Son, and Spirit fully enjoying one another’s company in Eternal Realms, and spilling over into our mortal lives here where the rubber-hits-the-road day after day.  Reach out with your God-given faith and grab the joyof God freely offered to you by Holy Spirit!

Here’s how one Gospel song writer attempted to describe JOY 100 years ago:

                            I have found that hope so bright and clear,

                            Living in the realms of grace.

                            O the Savior’s presence is so near;

                            I can see his smiling face.

                                            It is JOY unspeakable and full of glory…

                                            …O the half has never yet been told!

                            I have found the JOY no tongue can tell—

                            How its waves of glory roll!

                            It is like a great overflowing well

                            Springing up within my soul!

                                            It is JOY unspeakable and full of glory…

                                            …O the half has never yet been told!

I’m inviting you right now—this moment—this second—to ask Holy Spirit to give you his very own joy.  You do that by releasing your faith to Him and exercising your will.  If you don’t yet have that joy and honestly desire to possess it, right this second ask Holy Spirit to release his own joy into your life.  I am trusting God that He will give it to you right on the spot, right here, right now, this moment.  Just release your God-given faith and set your will to receive Holy Spirit’s uncontainable, unexplainable, and unspeakable joy to abide permanently within you the remainder of your life!

Bill Boylan

Life Enrichment Services, Inc

leservices38@yahoo.com

Posted October 2020

The Killer God

Almost daily I pray, Spirit, lead me into truth without borders.  What does that mean?  For years, I have been praying that God will lead me into his truth about the matter of atrocities in the Bible—not human attempts at truth to explain away the atrocities, cover them up, or deny they happened.  I want to understand—at least in part—why they occurred.  

One of my grandmothers used the word smidgen a lot, describing a tiny portion of something.  I pray that this teaching about a thorny biblical subject—a “sticky wicket” as the British say, will be a smidgen of truth without borders to tackle a difficult biblical theme.  A friend has called this biblical theme:  “The Killer God.”  I feel that term is appropriate, but it’s a subject we don’t like to think about, much less use a term such as killer God. 

Ever since I became a follower of Jesus many years ago and began reading through the Bible, I have been greatly troubled by the various atrocities recorded in the Bible.   The atrocities ordered by God or directly committed by God have been especially troubling, so much so that I have tended simply to gloss over them when reading the Bible.  They simply didn’t make sense, and I certainly couldn’t explain them—especially to critics of the Bible who used such atrocities as one of their major sources of criticism of God who is called in the Bible the God Who is love—that is to say, God’s basic character and nature is love, and everything He does flows from his love.  (1 John 4: 8 – 11)  The critics charge, “How can such a killer God be a God of love?”

Yes, I have struggled for many years when reading about atrocities in the Bible, especially those ordered by God or directly committed by God.  Humans killing other humans by their own volition is bad enough, but for God to order humans to be killed or to kill them Himself seems absolutely unspeakable and beyond belief to me!

It’s one of those Bible subjects that I’ve never before seen fully addressed—much less addressed satisfactorily.  When I’ve asked notable scholars about the matter, they’ve either sidestepped my questions, tended to “sweep the matter under the rug,” tell me the atrocities really didn’t happen, or offer me some pseudo-scholarly answer that those parts of the Bible that tell about such atrocities are not really part of the “inspired” Word of God—they were inserted by translators to cast God in a bad light more in keeping with the pagan gods of those times.  Some have even suggested that it was really Satan who committed the atrocities, then influenced Bible writers to insert the name of God into those places in the Bible that tell of the atrocities! 

[Note:  My thoughts in this paragraph and the one immediately following were triggered by some musing furnished me by my dear young Jesus-brother, Corey Friend.]  One view I’ve heard some people express through the years in an attempt to explain away or justify God killing people (or having people killed) goes something like this:  “When people get to heaven, they will be so full of bliss and complete joy in the overwhelming presence of God that they won’t even think about anyone suffering eternal conscious torment in the burning fires of hell; so if we can make it through this life without giving much thought to the matter, then in heaven we won’t  think about it at all—out of sight, out of mind.”  Such a view is not worth serious consideration, and it is not supported by any biblical teaching.

In addition, I’ve heard well-intended people say that such events in the Bible mysteriously bring glory to God by showing his absolute sovereignty over his entire creation—that He can do anything and everything He chooses to do…and that brings glory to Him.  My response to that empty view is the same as in the above paragraph.

I’m openly addressing the matter of the killer God in this teaching, and I’m keenly aware that is all I’m doing, not bringing the matter to any successful resolution or understanding.  I’m only attempting to share some thoughts a few others and I have pieced together through the years—thoughts that have helped me a little; maybe they’ll help you, too.

I hope you will agree with me that during this mortal life we live on planet earth, “we only know in part and merely see through a glass darkly,” as the Bible puts it (1 Corinthians 13: 12).  All human understanding is finite and limited.  I feel the reasons for the atrocities cited in the Bible will only be known more fully when we humans transition into our immortal state in Eternal Realms.  Yes, only when we enter Jesus’ eternal Kingdom on the freshly restored earth will we even begin to come close to understanding such matters.

A few years after becoming a follower of Jesus, I began to understand that one of the major themes in the Bible is that of apokatastasis (“God’s redemption, reconciliation, and restoration of all things, including all humanity”).  I then began to get a slight feel about how biblical atrocities might be somewhat understood in the light of apokatastasis.  The entire concept of apokatastasis is summarized in 1 Corinthians 15: 24 – 28 in the Bible:

“Here is God’s final goal.  Jesus will never stop crushing his opposition until his last enemy—death—is defeated.  Then when Jesus is absolute Victor, He will submit Himself—and hand over his Kingdom—to God the Father.  That will be the final, joyful consummation of all things God has purposed.  God will then be All in all—absolutely everything to everyone…including all humanity.  God will finally be supreme, the indwelling and controlling factor of all life everywhere.  His loving and benevolent rulership over all his creation will at last be absolutely comprehensive—a perfect ending!”   (Amplified and paraphrased)

Frankly, before coming to understand the biblical teaching about apokatastasis, I had been embarrassed at various times when people broached the subject of biblical atrocities to me; I’ve felt that somehow I must “defend” God for killing people—but I really didn’t have anything of substance to say in his defense.  I was ashamed that God would cruelly kill people whom He created in his image—especially innocent infants, children, and females. I wanted to delete certain passages from the Bible.  I even wanted to think that maybe certain troubling passages in the Bible about the killer God really didn’t belong there—maybe they were inserted by someone to put God in a bad light.  And so on… 

I just couldn’t handle the subject.  I still can’t handle the subject fully, but the following smidgens of thoughts have at least helped somewhat to assuage my feelings, my misplaced anger at God, my troubling emotional confusion and consternation, my doubts about the trustworthiness of the Bible, and my feelings of guilt on God’s behalf.  Even with only a limited, finite understanding of God’s ultimate, loving and good purposes for all humanity in apokatastasis, have the atrocities in the Bible begun to make some slight sense. 

On the contrary, for those who mistakenly believe in eternal conscious torment for people who do not become believers in Jesus in this life, such atrocities make no sense whatsoever; they show God to be capricious, evil, and vicious, similar to the false gods noted in the Bible. If, as many believe, the vast majority of humanity is destined to suffer eternal conscious torment, then God made a very serious mistake in creating humanity in the first place and then turning around and killing many of them—knowing full well they would suffer eternal conscious torment in an ever-burning hell!  It’s difficult to lovingly worship that type of killer God!

Speaking of false gods, people often felt they had to placate such false gods with human sacrifices; for example, to worship the false god Molech (or Moloch), priests and parents would sacrifice their babies and infants to Molech by casting them into raging fires such as those fires kept burning in the Valley of Hinnom (Gehenna) outside the city of Jerusalem.

I’m now going to offer ten smidgens of truth—incomplete reasons (partial explanations?) that have helped me understand—at least just a little bit—a smidgen—why God would order people to be killed or kill them Himself—in the overarching light of the biblical theme of apokatastasis.

One:  God views the matter of human death entirely differently than we humans do.  In fact, death and life—in a sense—are the same to Him.  In the eternal simultaneity of God’s perspective, He perceives both the living and the dead as ultimately being fully alive (Luke 20: 38).  From his sovereign perspective of eternity, no matter how one dies, no matter who dies, no matter when one dies, no matter at what age one dies, no matter under what circumstances one dies—immediately after their deaths, they find themselves in God’s presence for Him to begin to fully redeem, restore, and reconcile them to a final and complete, all-loving, eternal relationship and union with Him.

Two:  In many cases—from God’s perspective, biblical deaths by atrocity were actually “blessings in disguise” to perhaps save the dying person(s) from later lifetimes of cruel slavery, horrible physical and sexual abuse, human trafficking, painful torture, slow, unspeakably painful deaths, pedophilia, painful abortions, the perversity of some painful sexual practices, forced into battle to die dreadful deaths in warfare, sodomy, castration to be made eunuchs, painful poisonings, thrown into fires, boiled in oil, drawn and quartered, ad infinitum.

Three:  Sometimes God would destroy entire nations of people because their lifestyles and practices were so vile and horrible that they would “contaminate” societies around them if allowed to remain viable nations.  Perhaps God had all the inhabitants in such cultures die for the “greater good.”

Four:  God became incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth as a human being, submitting to slow, horrible, agonizing, mental, emotional, and physical torture, and took upon Himself all of humanity’s worst violence in his own painful death—flowing from his pure love for humanity’s ultimate good.  God—who had never experienced pain or death, took horrible, painful death upon Himself on behalf of all humanity, knowing full well that in the end, all humanity (no matter how they died) would be enfolded into his loving, eternal embrace.  Jesus, God incarnate, experienced death on behalf of—and in place of—every human. (Hebrews 2: 9)

Five:  We canbegin seeing “through a glass darkly” why God told various people in the Bible to literally kill all members of a certain tribe or group.  “Why should God cause innocent females and children to be slain?!” has been the justifiable outcry of many people for long ages of time.  For too long we who believe in God and the Bible have given the weak reply: “Well, the God of the Old Testament is not really the God of the New Testament, and God’s ways were different back in those days.”  This mistaken conclusion utterly ignores certain references such as Malachi 3: 6 and Hebrews 13: 8:  “For I am the LORD, I do not change;…”  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and throughout the ages of time.”

But if we can at least begin to see in part that all of those people God ordered killed (or killed Himself)—including innocent infants, children, and females—might make no more progress toward a vital relationship with Him in this life—perhaps because of the influences of a depraved and degenerate society and culture in which they lived—why not deliver them over to death and the grave, knowing full well that later, they will eventually turn to God and be fully redeemed, restored, and reconciled  to Him? 

Six:  This same line of thought at least partially answers the question, “Why do some people die so young?”  Isn’t it at least a possibility that those who die young are actually, in a sense, being speeded on their way to accepting Jesus’ full and complete payment for their sins, while those who still live evidently will have opportunity—via a friend who is a Jesus-believer, via an evangelist, via a missionary, or the like—to accept Jesus in this life.  Both ways lead to Jesus.  God who knows the thoughts and hearts of all people, knows which route will be speedier for a given individual.  With this in mind, Isaiah 57: 1 reads, in part:   “Yes, some people die seemingly before their time.  God is simply protecting them from evil to come…”  (paraphrased)

Seven:  [This paragraph and the next were contributed to this teaching by my friends, John and Bonnie Morris.]  With all that was said above, we would like to offer a comment about God’s judgments.  If we can understand God’s ways in judgment, it will help us to see that every move God makes throughout the Bible in dealing with humanity is to benefit those He judges.  He always purposes to bring remedies or cures to humanity when He judges them.  His judgments are not like human judgments.  God’s judgments are never without hope.  Human judgments often results in condemnation, because generally they are not remedial as are God’s judgments.  God’s judgments actually save and restore, with a view towards the ultimate redemption, restoration, and reconciliation of all humanity to Himself. 

To better understand the principles of God’s justice and judgments, please read 3 other teachings by Bill on this website:  “Hope in Judgment,” “Hope in Justice,” and “Judgment and Justice.”  Hopefully, you will see that the love of God remains consistent in all that He does.

Eight:   It is logical and reasonable to reserve judgment and conclusions about any matter until all the facts and evidence are in:  compile all the facts, put them together into a meaningful whole, research their meaning, and then put them together in order to make one’s judgments or conclusions—like assembling a jigsaw puzzle.  We must do the same with this matter of biblical atrocities.  Let’s reserve judging God and arriving at incomplete conclusions until the puzzle is completed.

Nine:  [Almost all the thoughts for Number Nine were contributed to this teaching by my dear friend, Gerry Beauchemin.]  “Though I don’t have an answer that fully satisfies me, I am comforted knowing that death is not hopeless for anyone. God will wipe away every tear.  Death, sorrow, crying and pain shall cease (Revelation 21: 4). Author and theologian, Dr. Norman Geisler, in defense of Israel’s alleged “atrocities” against the Canaanite and Amalekite cultures wrote:  ‘This was a thoroughly evil culture… They were into brutality, cruelty, incest, bestiality, cultic prostitution, even child sacrifice by fire.  

They were aggressive cultures that wanted to annihilate the Israelites.  God took action not only for the sake of the Israelites but, ultimately, for the sake of everyone throughout history whose salvation would be provided by the Messiah who was to be born among them. God’s purpose in these instances was to destroy the corrupt nation because the national structure was inherently evil.…’

Many biblical references indicate that God’s primary desire was to drive these evil people out of the land they already knew had been promised for a long time to Israel.  That way, Israel could enter the land God promised them, and then be relatively free from the outside corruption that could have destroyed Israel like a cancer. God wanted to create an environment where the Messiah could come for the benefit of millions of people through history. Besides, under the rules of conduct God had given the Israelites, whenever they went into an enemy city they were to first make the people an offer of peace. The people had a choice:  they could accept that offer, in which case they wouldn’t be killed, or they could reject the offer at their own peril.

That’s appropriate and fair. Most of the women and children would have fled in advance before the actual fighting began, leaving behind the warriors to face the Israelites. The fighters who remained would have been the most hardened, the ones who stubbornly refused to leave, the carriers of the corrupt culture…  God is not capricious, he’s not arbitrary, he’s not cruel…he is undeniably just.   It seems, if Dr. Geisler is correct, that God had to protect Israel in order to fulfill His good purposes for the entire world.

We who believe in the Blessed Hope of Jesus’ return to make all wrong things right can at least be comforted knowing suffering is not eternal. But why is there so much unfairness in the world; even extreme suffering? Is there any purpose to it? What is it intended to teach us? I think the answer lies in the significance of the ‘Body’ of Christ.  ‘There is one body.’  ‘The body is not one member but many.’  ‘I pray that they may be one.’  ‘Bear one another’s burdens.’  ‘Bear with one another in love.’  ‘That the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity…and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.’  ‘I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body’ (Colossians 1: 24). There are eighty ‘one another’ phrases in the New Testament.  They are everywhere! 

Could it be that through our oneness, the experiences of individuals become the experience, lessons, and wisdom of all?  It is evident that in God’s sovereign will, we all must go through degrees of pain and suffering; some less, some more.  I believe that through our oneness in God’s Spirit, we all bear with Christ (identify with and participate in) the burdens of all humanity. We must learn the full measure of the sickness of sin, and even more wonderfully, the full redemption and contrasting grace and love of our Father!  

When we all become one in Christ and knit together, there will no longer be an issue of fairness in suffering. Each will identify and truly empathize with each other’s pain. The lessons gained from the experience of the world’s full history of sin will be everyone’s to share. This gives deep meaning to all pain and the oneness we experience as members of His body. We are all one. Our brother’s and sister’s pain is our own! Only an almighty God of infinite knowledge and wisdom, could ever do such a thing. Our gracious Father will nurture this attitude in us more and more as we mature in Christ. [I thank Derek Calder for these insightful thoughts.]” 

Ten:  [This paragraph is from my dear friend, Jamie Luck.]  I have sometimes wondered if the Bible is not a “Cliff Notes” version that leaves a lot of holes with unanswered questions.  And the danger is that humankind either thinks there are no holes, or fills the holes with the wrong answers!  I am definitely not dogmatic that everything in the Bible is crystal clear.  Like the Apostle John wrote near the end of his biography (Gospel) of Jesus, if everything Jesus did was recorded, there wouldn’t be enough books to contain all He did!  So surely we are missing pieces of the puzzle.  I feel the “killer God” of the Bible falls into that category.

 There you have it, 10 attempts at partial, incomplete explanations for why in the Bible God ordered people killed or killed them Himself.  Do these explanations fully answer questions about such matters?  Decidedly not!  But as hinted at earlier, such explanations at least make it a little easier for me to accept God’s unconditional love for me—and love Him in return—even though I certainly don’t understand even a smidgen of his ways and works among humanity.  I can at least believe the Bible’s declaration that “God is love” (1 John 4: 8) with fewer reservations than I’ve had in the past before offering these partial explanations.

It is now a little easier for me to accept that in numerous inscrutable and inexplicable ways God is lovingly drawing all humanity (living and dead) into his warm embrace through the finished work of Jesus!   (John 6: 44 and 12: 32)

[NOTE:  I hope that over time Holy Spirit will give me more enlightenment and understanding about this matter; if and when He does, I will update this teaching.  Or, perhaps you might have some more pertinent information for me; if so, please furnish it to me, and if I feel it’s appropriate, I will include it in my updates, along with your name.]

Bill Boylan

Life Enrichment Services, Inc.

leservices38@yahoo.com

Written and Posted September 2020

Eternity In My Heart

The Bible teaches that God has “placed eternity” in the heart of every human being!  That sounds like a nice religious sentiment—even sort of poetic, but what does it really mean?  A good place to begin in answering that question is to define some words and terms:  God, eternity, heart, etc.

                Here we go…  Of course, if God is really God, then there’s no way to define the indefinable.  Either God exists and is God…or He doesn’t exist.  If He exists, then the usual words that attempt to define Him are appropriate and applicable:  omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful), omnipresent (everywhere and everywhen simultaneously), all-loving, and the like.  If God does not exist, then there’s no reason to continue with this teaching. 

Therefore, to continue with this teaching I am making the basic assumption that God exists and all the attempts to define the indefinable are appropriate—but only go so far.  If God is God, then He is eternal and infinite (no limitations of time and space), and no human languages can really do complete justice in describing Him. One historic attempt to describe God is that He is Creator of all that exists—including all humanity.

                Again, I’m making some assumptions:  God exists, He is Creator.  He is eternal.  He is infinite.  He has created all humanity.  Humans whom He has created reflect in many ways who God is.  I am making an additional assumption:  God is a tri-une being, a trinity.  Three persons in one God; one God in three persons.  Indivisible.  I won’t attempt to explain the tri-une nature of God.  I simply accept that as an inexplicable fact taught in various places throughout the Bible, especially in the New Testament.

                Humans are also a “trinity,” consisting of body, soul, and spirit:  One in three.  Three in one.  Indivisible.  Inexplicable.  The only entity we have access to in this life that can define the tri-une nature of humans is the Bible, as stated in Hebrews 4: 12:  “For we have the power-full Word of God [the Bible], that is full of God’s own LIFE—LIFEgiving.  Like a surgeon’s scalpel, it even cuts to the core of our being where soul, spirit, and body meet and blend into one!” (paraphrased) 

                As originally created, humans consisted of spirit, soul (mind, personality), and body—with the spirit component of humanity having ascendancy or dominance (but not domineering!) over body and soul:  “chief among equals,” so to speak.  Shortly after humanity’s creation, due to the entrance of sin into the bloodstream and DNA of humanity, the spirit component lost its dominance and “died.”  It did not die in the sense of cessation of existence; rather, in the sense of atrophying, withering, drying up—it’s inner light almost flickering out.

                For almost all topics or subjects taught throughout the Bible, there is most often one basic reference, verse, passage or chapter that encapsulates or summarizes that topic or subject.  For example, the subject of “resurrection” is summarized in 1 Corinthians 15, the subject of “love” in 1 Corinthians 13, the way God “speaks” to us in John 10, and so on. 

                The subject of the tri-une nature and “composition” of humans is encapsulated in 1 Thessalonians 5: 23:  “Now may the God of peace and harmony set you apart, making you completely whole.  And may your entire being—body, soul, and spirit—be kept completely fit and flawless for the appearance and coming of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One.”  (paraphrased)

                So far, we have “defined” God and briefly looked at the makeup of humans.  Now let me attempt to define “heart” and then “eternity,” before we discuss God having placed eternity in the hearts of all humans. 

                It seems that throughout the Bible, the human heart is often considered alternately as “soul” and “spirit,” but putting together all the references to “heart” in the Bible, it appears that the human heart is most often defined as the human soul and spirit combined.  “Heart” means the core or essence of who we are as humans.  It means who we are as humans, contrasted with so-called “lower animals,” so to speak or with living flora.

                Now let’s take a few moments to look at the concept of “eternity.”  The most literal definition of eternity is “a state of being ‘in’ God.”  We shall see that it is much more than that, but it is a state of being, first and foremost.  In other words, eternity is not a created phenomenon as time is.  In all candor, I believe the Bible teaches very little by way of defining or describing eternity.  Why?  Because the Bible is essentially a book of time and for time, not for eternity.  It was written for us who are still time-beings, not yet totally eternal beings.  It was written to time- and space-limited humans, for humans, and does not contain exhaustive information about the state of being called eternity—simply because—until we enter the realm of eternity, our limited, finite minds could not even begin to grasp even the most elemental truths about infinity and eternity.

However, the Bible is clear that it is an “eternal book” and will be carried over into the eternal state when we shall continue to explore its “mysteries” in that state beyond time.  The Word of God—the Bible—will stand throughout eternity as God’s complete written revelation to humankind, always and ever to be “mined” for its vast, inexhaustible treasures of knowledge and wisdom!

Where is that state of being we call eternity to be found?   If we were to consider it an actual “place,” (it is not, but if it were)we will find eternity “beginning” beyond the far shores of time!  It is an infinite sphere where God is at the absolute center and there is no circumference. 

We are presently creatures of time—journeying through time and space.  Only when we arrive at and fully enter that state of being called eternity… only when He who is Eternal becomes All in All in us… only when time ends and is swallowed up into eternity… only when eternity becomes an absolute reality to us… only when we are spiritually metamorphosized into our eternal milieu…only then will we who were formerly temporal and physical beings, begin to comprehend eternity and matters of an eternal nature.  Everything written in time about eternity (including this teaching) is at best merely enlightened speculation based upon very limited information either scientific or spiritual.

I wrote that the Bible is relatively silent about the state of being called eternity.  That is not to say that human teachings and theology haven’t taught us a few concepts about eternity, but, sadly, some of it over the past 2,000 years or so has come from human minds not necessarily sensitive to the mind of the Eternal One via the Holy Spirit.  Praise God for the true teaching ministry of the Eternal Spirit!

                We read in the Bible that God is Eternal, or, more literally, the Father of Eternity (Deuteronomy 33: 27, Isaiah 9: 6).  He is called so in the sense that he is the originator and sustainer of eternity.   In short, eternity is part of God.  He is eternity.  Eternity is wholly “within” God.  In continuing to consider the eternal state, we must completely jettison any thinking that time has anything to do with eternity or is part of eternity. Time and eternity are two separate entities. They are mutually exclusive of one another in an absolute sense.

                Eternity is a state of absolute timelessness, NOT a state of unending time.  Eternity is neither the end of time nor “after” the end of time.  It is the transmutation of time.  It is all at once and all “places” at once, where everything is simultaneously accessible.  Eternity is a state of being, resident in the very nature and person of God in which such concepts as past, present, future, before, after, minutes, hours, and years do not existThere are no endless ages of time in eternity!

                There is no “forever” in eternity.  Eternity is a state of absolute simultaneousness, not a state that goes on and on “forever” with the passing of “unending” time.  The created ages of time will end; they are alien concepts in eternity. Time and eternity have no relationship with one another just as up or down, for example, have no relationship with light or dark. The terms are mutually exclusive. Time is not part of eternity just as up is not part of light.  Eternity is NOT composed of endless segments of time or of unending ages that go on and on and on forever and forever and ever without end.  In eternity, it is always now…

                Just as something extra to think about, have you ever considered how “forever” as we commonly think of it as time without end…could have an “ever” tacked on to the end of forever?  How could there be a “forever” with an “ever” following it?  I’m just asking.

                It may seem like I’m overemphasizing this point, but it is absolutely essential that you understand such differences between eternity and time before you can begin to comprehend what the Bible teaches, for example, about eternal LIFE or eternal punishment. Time is not part of eternity.  Eternity is not composed of unending segments of time.  Eternity is not time standing still.  It simply is not time in any sense that we understand time.  Eternity doesn’t go on and on, ad infinitum.   Before reading this teaching any further, you might want to read a companion teaching on our web site titled “Eternal LIFE.”

Eternity doesn’t go anywhere or anywhen, nor does it do anything.  Eternity simply is.  It is as foolish to say that eternity goes on and on and on as to say, for example, that Texas goes on and on and on.  Texas simply is a state in which people exist.  So it is with eternity.

                Time is created.  It is extra-eternal in the sense we say something is extra-biblical. Time is a measurable, fixed, limited, created phenomena.  Eternity, in contrast, is part of the very measureless, non-fixed, limitless, boundless nature and person of God.  Eternity transcends beyond our comprehension anything having to do with time.  Eternity simply is, just as God simply is.  The expression, “It is that it is,” has unique reference to eternity just as “I am that I am” has unique reference to God.  Just as Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am,” (John 8: 58) it can be said of eternity, “Before time was, I am.”

            We have now completed our definitions.  Let’s go back to our first paragraph.  The Bible teaches that God has “placed eternity” in the heart of every human being!  That’s a nice religious sentiment—even sort of poetic, but what does it really mean?  A good place to begin in answering that question is to define some words and terms:  God, eternity, heart, etc.  We have now defined our terms.

                Here’s that biblical reference about God placing eternity in the hearts of every human:  “God has permanently implanted in every human a portion and foretaste of eternity.  Yet, finite humans can never get a complete grasp of what God is doing.  Being, finite, what we comprehend of God’s workings throughout human history is always partial and distorted.”  (Ecclesiastes 3: 11, paraphrased)  Simply stated, I believe that reference.  I believe that when every human is conceived, God places eternity in their hearts.  Every human!

                What a loving act for God—who is love: his basic character and nature is love—to place a “piece” of Himself in every human.  A piece of his love, of his eternal nature, of his state of being, of his goodness flowing from his love, of eternity spent with Him, not in a state of eternal, conscious torment, as multitudes of misguided people mistakenly believe.  In the words of an old song:  “How marvelous, how wonderful is my Savior’s love for me!”

                Let’s move on now and define the human spirit.  We have already seen that every human consists of body, soul, and spirit:  one in three, three in one.  Inseparably one for all time and eternity.  Our human spirit is that “part” of our makeup that is vitally connected with God, whose essence is Spirit.  In fact, the Bible states:  “God is Spirit.”  (John 4: 23).  

                As noted above, due to sin (which I won’t discuss in this teaching) our human spirit that God implants within us when we are conceived, becomes atrophied, withered, dried up, “dead.”  In the context of God being Creator of all, Zechariah 12: 1 states that God created or formed the spirit within humans; the Bible doesn’t tell us when that occurs, but logic and reason inform us that it likely occurs when each human is conceived.  Our human spirit is that “part” of us that is God-conscious.  At some point in each of our lives, our spirits become “dead” due to sin.  The Bible is not clear about when that occurs.

                However, the Bible does teach that at some point in our lives (likely when we are “born again,” or saved, or converted—whatever term one uses to describe the experience of re-connecting with the LIFE of God), God’s Spirit (Holy Spirit) fuses, melds, and coalesces with our human spirits and we become “one spirit.”  (1 Corinthians 6: 17).  Thereafter, our spirits “grow” within us as we foster and nourish our relationship with God the Spirit.  That relationship will continue to grow and thrive throughout our mortal lives, and then in the afterlife in eternity.  The Bible also teaches that the spirit of humans is the “candle” of God—or the “light” of God within humans.  (Proverbs 20: 27)  Again—due to sin—that light becomes dim until one is “born again,” or as an old Hank Williams song goes: “I saw the light.  Praise the Lord, I saw the light!”   I invite you to read another teaching on this website about the light of God within humans:  “Let There Be Light.”

                There you have it:  God has implanted eternity in your heart!  That means He has placed his own eternal LIFE in you.  God’s Spirit has fused and melded with your spirit, and you two have become one spirit for all time and eternity.  God’s light has been glowing within you since your conception, and is shining ever brighter as you cultivate your relationship with your Creator and Father.  Once again, your human spirit is gaining ascendancy over your body and soul, but is still chief among equals, in a manner of speaking.

                Yes, God has placed eternity in your heart!  I hope you now know a little bit more about what that statement means.  I urge you to foster that eternal nature within you.  Let God’s own nature and character within you grow and flourish as you cultivate your ongoing relationship with Him.  Continue on your journey with God through this life, continuing right on into your next life in Jesus’ bright Kingdom of Heaven on the freshly renewed and restored earth.  Reach out to help others find and recognize the LIFE of God—eternity—within them, too.  God has also placed eternity in their hearts!

                God might very well be asking you to help others accept and recognize eternity in their hearts, and then help them grow and nourish that eternal relationship with their Creator and Father.  What wonder-full opportunities there are all around you—if you have eyes to see and ears to hear—to help others see that God has placed eternity in their hearts.

Bill Boylan

Life Enrichment Services, Inc.

Leservices38@yahoo.com

Revised and Updated October 2020

Bible Study Principles

When I first became a believer in Jesus, I wish I had learned these Bible study principles!

Here’s the most important point I want you to know when it comes to the Bible.  Learn the differences between translation, interpretation, and understanding—all of which are imperfect human endeavors dealing with a perfect Bible in its original languages!  Translation = “rendering from one language into another something written or spoken; due to the intrinsic nature of differing languages, most translations cannot always be word-for-word—often they are thought-for-thought or concept-for-concept.”   Paraphrases are not translations.  Interpretation = “an attempt to explain in one’s own language, a translation.”  Understanding = “attempting to grasp the meaning of a translation or interpretation.”

                The following basic principles will serve you well if you will learn them, and use them as you read and study your Bible the rest of your life.

  1. Holy Spirit authored the Bible, the final written revelation of God to humanity.  He is the final Source and Arbiter of the Bible.  Questions?  Ask Holy Spirit.  All literature about the Bible is written by fallible, imperfect humans.  Holy Spirit uses the Bible to transform lives; you do not.
  • Reading, studying, and applying the Bible to one’s life regularly and consistently will keep one from sin…or sin will keep one from the Bible.  Don’t attempt to formally teach the Bible and related subjects if you do not read and re-read, study and re-study your Bible regularly and consistently!  Formally teaching the Bible will be totally ineffective without that kind of commitment to reading and studying the Bible day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, and applying it to one’s life.
  • The entire Bible is about Jesus (Luke 24:  27, 44, 45).  The Old Testament is the prologue  about Jesus.  The 4 Gospels (biographies) are about Jesus.  The remainder of the New Testament is the epilogue about Jesus.  The Old Testament conceals the New, and the New Testament reveals the Old.  As you read and study the Bible, look for Jesus in each of the Bible’s 66 books.
  • Use one printed edition of the Bible as your primary reading and study Bible so you can mark it up as you read and study.  Use other translations and paraphrases (including electronic versions) to supplement your primary Bible.
  1. When reading and studying the Bible, be diligent and careful to believe what you read, not read what you believe.
  1. Every topic and subject throughout the Bible has one specific reference, passage, chapter, etc. that summarizes and encapsulates that topic or subject.  As examples, the subject of “resurrection” is encapsulated in 1 Corinthians 15; the topic of “love” is summarized in 1 Corinthians 13; “God speaks to us” is encapsulated in John 10. 
  • When studying the Bible always define your terms from Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and English (or your other native language).  For example, the definition of “flesh” as used in the New Testament is:  “Relying solely on our 5 senses, logic, and reason interacting together, while disregarding the inner influences and power of Holy Spirit.”  References such as Galatians 5: 19 – 21 disclose what occurs when we rely on the flesh.  A reliable Bible dictionary is useful for studying Bible definitions.
  1. Always study all references throughout the Bible about a given subject or topic before arriving at a conclusion.  That way you avoid “cherry picking” references or selecting “proof texts” to prove a point.  Of course, using a reliable Bible Concordance is the way to do this.  Avoid building your teachings or doctrines on unclear passages; let clear teaching unlock the unclear.  Don’t “bend” or “twist” texts to avoid unpleasant conclusions.
  • These days, there is much information available on the internet to assist one in reading and studying the Bible.  In my opinion, currently these are the three most reliable and comprehensive websites:  biblegateway.com    biblehub.com   blueletterbible.org
  1. Understand that all Old Testament prophecy was fulfilled in, by, and through Jesus when He was here as the God-human 2,000 years ago.  All subsequent prophecy in the New Testament was fulfilled during the years 66 – 72 A.D.  The only prophecies yet to be fulfilled are contained in chapters 19 – 22 of the Book of Revelation.  The “end-times” or “last days” began in the Book of Acts and are still ongoing (Acts 2: 17, 1 Corinthians 10: 11, 1 Timothy 4: 1, and Hebrews 1: 2 and 9: 6).  Biblically, it is probably more correct to say we are living in “beginning times” than in end-times.  The true end of the Bible and end-times is found in 1 Corinthians 15: 24 – 28 when God becomes Everything to everyone.  The Book of Revelation is merely the end of the format of the Bible, not about end-time prophecies, except for chapters 19 – 22.
  1. Practice the “rule of first mention.”  When a topic or subject is first mentioned in the Bible, that generally sets the stage for that topic or subject to be interpreted in the same manner throughout the remainder of the Bible.
  1. Don’t just read books about the Book, read the Book!  Reading literature about the Bible and related subjects is good, but they’re only secondary to reading and studying the Bible.  Yes, books about the Bible are good.  Sunday school teacher’s manuals are good.  Christian magazines and periodicals are good.  Denominational teaching publications are good.  Theology books are good.  But, the good is always the enemy of the best! 
  1. Never, ever, ever, argue about the Bible!  Arguments create “heat,” not “light”!  Generally arguments occur when people want their own, self-centered way—they want to be right.  Even if your side of the argument is the “correct” one, as a wise man once said:  “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”
  1. If you become very familiar with the Bible, often sharing it with others,some people will have a tendency to “put you on a pedestal,” so to speak, as a Bible expert—just like many people do with pastors or priests.  It’s just human nature for them to do that.  Try not to let it go to your head.
  1. I have observed that multitudes of people believe they know a lot about the Bible, but much of what they know is not true!  The only way to know Bible truth is to read and study the Bible consistently throughout one’s lifetime.  Keep in mind, however, that Holy Spirit can reveal truths about the Bible one has not necessarily studied, but what He reveals will always be consistent with the overall teachings of the Bible.
  1. Never attempt to place what you know about the Bible into a “religious box.”  The Bible is about one’s relationship with the God of the Bible—not about religion.  God will always break out of any religious box we attempt to place Him in.
  1. Realize the Bible teaches that the Church is the living Body of Jesus—an organism, not an organization.  Yes, to function in most cultures we must superimpose some organization upon the organism, but the organization is decidedly not the Church.  The Bible’s definition of “Church” is:  “All humans everywhere and everywhen in whom Jesus lives in his unbodied form of Holy Spirit.” Jesus is the sole Head of his Church; no human is, whether it’s a local expression of the Church or regional, national, or worldwide.
  1. The Bible teaches throughout that the principal task of Jesus-believers is to plant biblical “seeds” into the lives of others, watering and cultivating those seeds with prayer.  God’s tasks are to grow, ripen, and harvest the seeds at the appropriate time.  Never confuse whose tasks are whose!
  1. The Bible does not teach that the horrors of hell, nor detailing God’s wrath, nor rehearsing his judgments draw people to Him.  Rather, the goodness of God causes people to repent (Romans 2: 4).
  • The Bible teaches it is impossible for one to live a godly life that pleases God.  Only Jesus can live such a life. It is impossible for any human to live a truly godly life.  Only Jesus can live a godly life in you, through you, and as you.  It is impossible for you to live for Jesus; He must live his own life out of you from within you.  The essence of religion and dead tradition is to feel one can live a godly life and grow spiritually by one’s own efforts. 
  • We should read many books in our lifetimes.  The Bible is the only book that loves us back!
  • Memorize the titles of the 66 books of the Bible in proper sequence.  One cannot really know and study the Bible well without that basic knowledge. 
  1. Always be mindful of the context and milieu when you’re studying a Biblical subject or topic.  Ask these basic questions:  who, what, why, when, and how.  Learn about the Bible’s historical, geographical, and cultural background and milieu.
  • Determine if the text you are reading is literal, factual, fiction, hyperbole, parable, symbolism, paradox, metaphor, exaggeration, understatement, figurative, simile, metonymy, synecdoche, irony, onomatopoeia, oxymoron, personification, humor, sarcasm, cynicism, prophecy, anthropomorphism, historical, etc.
  • Always let the Bible be its own “interpreter,” i.e., when studying any subject or topic in the Bible, let all other references about that topic interpret one another, so that each adds to the whole when arriving at a conclusion.  Bible concordances, dictionaries, encyclopedias, commentaries, and the like are all good, but they’re all “external.”  Depend on the “internal” to interpret and clarify itself.
  1. Realize the Bible records events without necessarily condoning them.
  • In texts where someone is speaking, always keep in mind who is speaking—and to whom.  Determine if the speaker is speaking truth or not.
  • Here are 4 miscellaneous “Life Principles” that come in handy when reading or studying the Bible with others, or when teaching the Bible:  1.  Ben Franklin put it this way:  “If you need to apologize, don’t negate your apology with an explanation.” 2.  As Jesus said:  “Let your “yes” be yes and your “No” be no,” never followed with explanations.  3.  There are times when I need to keep my mouth shut!  4.  Arguments create heat, not light.  Most (not all) arguments are simply self-centered people wanting their own way.  Planned debates are not arguments.
  • Obey what you read, for “all those who obey his precepts develop good understanding and wisdom, and discover purpose and true meaning for their lives.”  (Psalm 111: 10)

Bill Boylan

Life Enrichment Services, Inc.

Leservices38@yahoo.com

Posted October 2020

Revelation Unveiled

Worship His Majesty!

What I will share with you for the next 25 minutes may be new to you.  That’s okay.  Holy Spirit began to share these thoughts with me only 7 weeks ago (June 2020) and I still have much to learn.  Please understand that I am not trying to push these thoughts on you and convince you they are true.  I am not being dogmatic.  I realize how limited my understanding is and that I am human and make many mistakes.  I simply ask that you give me your attention for the next 25 minutes are so and hear me out.  If you disagree with my findings and conclusions, that’s okay. 

I wrote these next two sentences just a few minutes ago while I was reviewing my notes:  “Don’t place your prophetic hope in anyone’s teachings, in any writings, in any books, in any knowledge, even in the written Bible.  Colossians 1: 27 and Titus 2: 13 tell us to put our prophetic hope in the Living Lord Jesus who alone is our true and only hope of glory and our blessed Hope!”

                I’m going to make a statement now that you may or may not agree with.  Here’s that statement:  2,000 years ago when God was here as a human named Jesus of Nazareth, He brought to a complete end—and fulfilled—ALL prophecy in the Old Testament.  Matthew 5: 17 gives me a hint that the statement I just made is true, but I readily admit I have much more to learn before that understanding becomes a basic part of my belief system. 

I believe there is no more prophecy in the Old Testament from Isaiah to Malachi yet to be fulfilled in the future.  But we must still thoroughly know the Old Testament in order to understand any prophecy in the New Testament.  For example, over 400 times the Book of Revelation in the New Testament refers to the Old Testament; that’s an average of 18 times per chapter in Revelation; it is absolutely rooted in the symbolism of  the Old Testament.

Here’s another statement consistent with the one I just made:  The Book of Revelation is primarily about the revealing of Jesus, about unveiling Him.  Revelation is not simply a prophetic vision given to John; it’s an unveiling of Jesus to us.  The Greek word for “revelation” is apokalypsis from which we get the English word “apocalypse,” that simply means “holy unveiling.”  The Book of Revelation is solely the holy unveiling of Jesus, NOT about unveiling dreadful apocalyptic events in the so-called end-times. 

Whatever your end-time views, I encourage you to place your hope in a Person, place your hope in Jesus, not in supposed, upcoming prophetic events.  Place your hope in the Solid Rock, Jesus!   1 Peter 1: 3 says we have a living hope because God raised Jesus from the dead.  Let’s place our living hope in Jesus!

As a sidebar, currently, there is a popular teaching circulating in many religious circles about the “manifested sons of God” based on Romans 8: 19.  The Greek word for manifested is  apokalypsis.  Yes, at some time in the future redeemed and glorified humans will be “revealed” in the same manner as Jesus—a holy unveiling or revealing to the entire waiting creation.

Throughout the New Testament, there are smatterings of prophecies, but most of the events about which they prophesy already occurred 2,000 years ago as recorded in chapters 4 – 18 of Revelation.  I’m going to go one step further:  I’m making the statement that only the last 4 chapters of the Book of Revelation are yet in the future, yet to be fulfilled.  Those 4 chapters contain the only Bible prophecies yet to be fulfilled

Revelation was written in 65 or 66 A.D.  The events of Revelation in chapters 1 – 3 were already occurring at the time John wrote the book.  Chapters 4 – 18 would happen very soon from 66 to 72 A.D., a seven-year period known by the Jewish people as “The Great Tribulation” when Jerusalem was virtually wiped off the map, the Jewish Temple was destroyed, and their way of life almost came to an end with approximately 1,000,000 Jews slaughtered by Roman General Titus and the Roman armies in Jerusalem and throughout the land of Israel.  Only chapters 19 – 22 of the Book of Revelation are yet to be fulfilled prophetically.

  That now leads me to address the topic of end-times in Bible prophecy—and finding hope in Bible prophecy, as my friend Gerry Beauchemin brings to our attention in Anchor Ten of his book, Hope For All.  There really wasn’t a lot of teaching about biblical end-time prophecy until approximately World War I, 100 years ago.  I won’t go into detail about that; you can research that for yourself. 

Since approximately World War I, the evangelical world has churned out millions of pages about the so-called end-times, supposedly from the Bible—thousands of pages of books and other literature, thousands of hours of radio time, thousands of hours of television programming, and even more thousands of hours on social media.  What about the end-times?  When did the end-times—the last days—really begin?  1918?  1941?  1998?  2008?

To answer that question I’m simply going to refer you to a few references in the New Testament; after reading them, you can form your own conclusions about when the last days began:  Acts 2: 17, 1 Corinthians 10: 11, 1 Timothy 4: 1, Hebrews 1: 2, and Hebrews 9: 26.  My own conclusion from just those few references is that the last days—the end-times—began the moment Jesus was born and have continued for 2,000+ years. 

We may be near the end of the last days—the so-called end-times, but personally I feel it’s more correct to say that we are near the beginning of the next age—the return of Jesus and his bright Kingdom—the coming of the new times, the beginning times—than to emphasize we are living in the dreaded end-times.  Why not emphasize the good rather than the bad?

Early on the morning of June 5, 2020 [last month, 7 weeks ago], I was sitting on my deck watching the sun rise while drinking a Latte.  All of a sudden, Holy Spirit began flooding into my consciousness and spirit so many thoughts and concepts about prophecy and the Book of Revelation that I could scarcely keep up with what He was telling me.  I immediately knew He was telling me something I had never thought of before—and making it clear to me that He wanted me to change the remainder of this entire teaching from what I had been planning.  The remaining portion of this teaching is what I believe Holy Spirit wants me to share with you—instead of what I planned to share with you. 

Holy Spirit was emphasizing to me what I already suspected at some level.  The Book of Revelation is the revealing, the unveiling, the uncloaking, the disclosing, pulling back the curtain, the uncovering, of the risen, living, glorified Lord Jesus.  Here’s what Revelation 1: 1 clearly states:  “This is the revelation of Jesus, which God gave Him to show his servants—things which must take place very soon.  And He told me, John, to write this revealing, this unveiling of Jesus.” 

Yes, Revelation certainly contains prophecy but it’s not primarily a book of prophecy or prognostication; the main thrust of the Book of Revelation is, well, the revelation—the revealing of the Lord Jesus in  all his unveiled splendor; it’s the drawing back of a curtain so we can see Jesus as He really is now. 

It’s simply a continuation, a fleshing out, so to speak, of Jesus as He is now—as the disciples earlier caught a glimpse of Him in splendor on the Mount of Transfiguration.  The episode on the Mount of Transfiguration was a glimpse, a foretaste, a “preview of coming attractions,” so to speak, of who Jesus would later reveal Himself to be really like in the Book of Revelation.  It’s important for us to vitally connect the episode on the Mount of Transfiguration with the Book of Revelation.

I am seeing for the first time that the Book of Revelation can be considered a “worship manual” with various scenarios for worshipping the unveiled Lord Jesus on his throne.  The Book of Revelation is not so much about prophecy; it is a call to worship!  It’s a heavenly worship service in progress—in which we are invited to participate. 

The Book of Revelation is a book of much symbolism and imagery written to the early church and easily understood by them, because they were extremely familiar with Old Testament prophecy.  For example, to clearly understand Revelation one must first be very familiar with the Old Testament books of Daniel and Ezekiel.   And we must understand that the wrath of the Lamb in chapters 4 – 18 is restorative and redemptive—not the pouring out of God’s vicious anger, rage, and fury. Please read two companion teachings on this website titled “The Wrath of God” and “Judgment and Justice.”

And remember this very important point:  Jesus Himself said, in Revelation 1: 3, “Joyous blessings are poured out to those who read this Revelation—upon those who hear, embrace, and treasure this revelation; it’s time has come.”   Read the Book of Revelation.  Worship Him who is revealed there.  God will bless you for doing so!  Incidentally, the word “blessed” occurs 7 times in the Book of Revelation; they are the new “beatitudes” (attitudes of being) to illuminate, amplify, and clarify the beatitudes of Jesus’ so-called “sermon on the mount.”

The following is some of what Holy Spirit revealed to me 7 weeks ago about the unveiled Jesus in the Book of Revelation.  See with me what the Spirit is showing us about the unveiled Jesus.  Please consider the next few minutes as a grand roll call for the King of all the ages of time and eternity to reveal Himself to us in a new and living way for us to trod during our life’s journey.

Here we go.  Here’s what Revelation shows us Who Jesus really is.  Jesus is the Truth-Teller who promises to abundantly bless those who read his Revelation.  He is the One who was dead, but who is now alive, who invited his dear friend, John, to come to his throne room to observe Him in all his scintillating splendor, and to write about Him and about the events soon to take place on the earth.  Jesus is God’s Faithful Witness, the Firstborn From the Dead, and the Ruler over the kings of the earth. 

He is the One who constantly loves us and washes us from our sins in his own spilled blood.  It is Jesus alone who brings us his great salvation.  Jesus has made us kings and priests to reign with Him in his glory and dominion.  He reigns as both Eternal Son of God and Eternal Son of Man.  From behind the scenes He orchestrates all events on earth and in heaven to turn all his judgments into victory.  Jesus is the only One who dispenses true justice.

He is the One coming with clouds—his voice as a loud trumpet, as the sound of many rushing waters.  Every eye shall see Him, even those who pierced Him.  He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending, the completion of all things on earth and throughout the universe.  He is the Almighty One who was, who is, and who is to come. 

He is clothed with a white robe and a golden sash around his chest.  His head and hair are white like glistening snow, and his eyes are shooting flames of fire.  His feet are gleaming like bright metal as though they were glowing in a fire.  Jesus’ face is shining like the brightness of the noonday sun.  Out of his mouth projects a sharp, double-edged sword.  He holds the keys that unlock the first and second death and Hades.  It is He who searches all minds and hearts and unveils the final mysteries of God.  Jesus is still walking among his Church today as He was then; He is walking here in this portion of his Church —in YOU — today—now—this very moment.  Are you seeing Him revealed to YOU?

He is the One who knows all there is to know about his beloved Church, his Bride—and yet loves his Church beyond measure—even with all its present faults and shortcomings; He is preparing her to be a Church clothed in white raiment without spot or wrinkle.  He is the One who eternally stands and knocks at the door of his Church.  Jesus gives grace, truth, peace, and eternal rest to his servants in his Church, his Living Body on earth and in Heaven. 

Jesus is the One who awards the Crown of Life to those who remain faithful in following Him.  He gives to each person according to their works.  He is the One who writes our names in his Book of Life from the foundation of the world.  He confesses our names before the Father and his angels.  He is the One who makes those who overcome, pillars in the temple of the Living God.  He is the Light in the temple in the New Jerusalem.

Jesus is the slain Lamb, yet the victorious Conqueror on a white horse.  He is not only the Lamb slain, but He is also the Great Shepherd of all his sheep and lambs.  He is God.  Jesus is human.  Jesus is the glorified One.  Unveiled, He is blindingly bright; He is scintillating.  Jesus is the Bridegroom.  He is the Host at the Marriage Feast of Him and his lovely Bride, the perfected, united Church of all the ages—everywhere and everywhen.   Jesus is the Lord of his Church.   Jesus is worshipped by all as King of his vast, unbounded creation.  Jesus is the One who beckons all humanity to eat from the Tree of Life.  He is the One who writes his Father’s name on our foreheads.  He is the One who holds all power over all nations.

Jesus is the One whom the Elders of all humanity worship.  Around the Lamb seated on his throne are hundreds of millions of angels, living beings, and elders.  Around his throne is a rainbow, a sea of glass, and numberless multitudes of living beings.  All the redeemed of Israel bow before Jesus in worship.  Jesus has freed all humankind from their sins.  Jesus is the Almighty One with all power on earth and throughout all creation.  He is the Son of Man, representative of all humanity before the Father.  Yes, Jesus is still walking among his Church today; He is here in this portion of his Church — in YOU —today—now—this very moment.  Is He revealing Himself to YOU?

Jesus is the One who has the power to command uncounted angels, cherubim, seraphim, and other heavenly beings to carry out his commands on the land, sea, and air.  He is the One who has fully defeated and conquered the dragon, that old serpent, and cast him and his minions into the lake burning with refining fire and healing, cleansing sulfur.  He is the One who will finally eradicate sin from all creation—sin never again to besiege and infect all humanity.  Jesus is He in whose hands alone are the mysterious scrolls revealing the full restorative and redemptive purposes of God.  He alone can open the sealed scrolls and loose God’s redemptive judgments and purposes. 

Jesus is the One who despises dead, empty, and powerless religion.  To those who are hungry, Jesus gives Hidden Manna to eat.  He confers white stones with new names inscribed on them.  Jesus searches all minds and hearts.  He gives his followers power over the nations of earth.  He gives the bright, Morning Star to his followers.  Jesus confesses our new names before the Father and angels. 

Jesus opens and no one shuts—and shuts and no one opens.  He sets before us open doors.  Jesus grants us to sit on his throne with Him.  Listen to Revelation 4: 11:  “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory, honor, and power, for You created all things, and for your purposes all things were created and exist.”  Jesus is the Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the tribe of Praise to God.  He is the One to whom all humanity sings their praises. 

Hear these words about Jesus in Revelation 5:  “Because You were slaughtered for us, You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals.  Your blood was the price paid to redeem us.  You purchased us to lovingly draw us to God out of every tribe, language, people group, and nation.  You have chosen us to serve our God and formed us into a kingdom of priests who reign on the earth.  Worthy is Jesus the Lamb who was slaughtered to receive great power and might, wealth and wisdom, and honor, glory, and praise.  Praise, honor, glory, and dominion be to God-Enthroned and to Jesus the Lamb for all the eons of time and throughout eternal realms.” 

Jesus is the chief of the twelve tribes of Israel.  He is the all-loving One, who leads all who thirst to fountains of Living Water and wipes away all tears from our eyes.  Jesus is the One who rewards his servants, prophets, and saints.  He is the male Child born of a woman to rule all nations with a rod of iron—a symbol of firmness, but not of tyranny.  He is the One who has all power over the one who accuses and deceives his followers.

Jesus gives us power to overcome.  Jesus is the One to whom we can sing this new song with those in Revelation 15:  “Mighty and marvelous are your miracles, Lord God Almighty!  Righteous and true are your ways, O sovereign King of the ages!  Who will not revere You with awe, O Lord, and bring glory to your name?  For You alone are holy, and all nations will come and bow in worship before You, as your blessings are revealed.”   Are YOU seeing the Father reveal the Son, and the Son reveal the ways and works of Holy Spirit, and Holy Spirit reveal the Son?  Are YOU seeing the three Persons of God, One in three and three in One?

Jesus is the Lamb who overcomes.  He is Great Lord of lesser lords and High King of lesser kings.  Listen to his words in Revelation 19:  “Hallelujah!  For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns!  Let us rejoice and exalt Him and give Him glory, because the wedding celebration of the Lamb has come.  And his bride has made herself ready.  Fine linen shining bright and clear, has been given her to wear, and the fine linen represents the righteous deeds of his holy believers.”     Are YOU —part of his Bride—making yourself ready for that universal wedding day and the eternal celebration feast to follow?

He who sits astride the white horse is called the Word of God.  It is Jesus who righteously judges all, both small and great.  It is Jesus who forever tabernacles among all humanity.  Jesus makes all things new—freshly restores all things.   As I begin to summarize, listen to Jesus’ closing words to us in Revelation 22:  “Behold, I am coming quickly!  I bring my reward with Me to repay everyone according to their works.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the Completion.  I am the bright Morning Star.  ‘‘Come,’ says Holy Spirit and the Bride in divine duet.  Let everyone who hears this duet join them in saying, ‘Come.’  Let everyone gripped with spiritual thirst say, ‘Come.’  And let everyone who craves the gift of living water come and drink it freely.  ‘It is my gift to you! Come.’ May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the holy believers.  Amen!” 

Do YOU see Him clearly now—the unveiled Jesus, the revealed One.  Does your spirit now long to humbly worship at the feet of Jesus?  Do you now see the true Jesus, the real Jesus—not the Jesus of religion, not the Sunday School Jesus, but the One we find revealed in his Book of Revelation?  Do you see Him walking among us here today, this very moment—revealing Himself to us?

Years earlier, John wrote in the fourth chapter of his Gospel, verses 23 and 24:   “Our worship must engage our spirits in the pursuit of truth.  God is Spirit, and He longs to have sincere worshipers who worship Him out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in humble adoration.  Face to face with Jesus in the Presence of our Father:  that is his desire and his delight—desiring our hearts even more than our worship itself!”  

We now have a glimpse of the unveiled Lord Jesus revealed to us and to all humanity in the Book of his Revelation of Himself!   Come, let us humbly worship the unveiled Jesus!

Let us begin to close this teaching by singing these words from an old Gospel song—singing them 3 or 4 times (adapted from the old Gospel song, “We’re Marching to Zion”): 

Come we who love the Lord, and let our joys be known.
Join in a song with sweet accord;
Join in a song with sweet accord,
And thus surround his throne,
And thus surround his throne.

The Mount of Zion brings forth my deepest worship songs,
Before I reach more heav’nly heights,
Before I reach more heav’nly heights,
And stand among Immanuel’s throngs,
And stand among Immanuel’s throngs.

Then let our tears be dry and all our songs be known.
We’re striding through Immanuel’s land;
We’re striding through Immanuel’s land,
To bow before his throne,
To bow before his throne.

  Do YOU see the Lord Jesus sitting on his throne today—high, exalted!—with the train of his robes filling the Temple?  Do YOU see the seraphim calling back and forth to one another:  “Holy, holy, holy is God-of-the-Angel-Armies.  His bright glory fills the entire earth!”  (From Isaiah 6: 1 – 3)

In closing, here is Romans 15: 13: “Now may God, the source and fountain of all hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you place your hope in Him alone.  And may the inner power of Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his superabundant goodness until you radiate with hope!” 

NOTE:  My books may be found at billsbooks.org and on amazon.com

Bill Boylan
Life Enrichment Services, Inc
leservices38@yahoo.com
Revised and Updated November 2020

Hope In God’s Promises

Most of us humans—being self-centered and self-absorbed for the most part—often break our promises—even if we’re well-intended in attempting to keep our promises.  It’s a rare human who doesn’t break promises sometimes—for real or contrived reasons.  We break promises to God, to family members, to our children, to friends, to bosses, to customers…and the parade of broken promises goes on.

The only Person I know who doesn’t break any of his promises is God!  God could probably not break a promise even if He wanted to; that’s just not part of his nature and character.  There are over 3,000 of God’s promises to humankind in the Bible.  His most startling promises concern the biblical teaching that God will eventually redeem, restore, and reconcile all humanity to Himself. 

In one of his books, Hope For All, Gerry Beauchemin lists ten “anchors” or ten reasons why and how God gives hope to all humanity.  Anchor Nine is titled “Hope In God’s Promises.”  This teaching is my attempt to supplement Gerry’s teaching about God’s promises to all humanity.

Before continuing, I must offer a confession.  Through the years of my earthly pilgrimage, I have “claimed” various promises of God that I have personalized—feeling they were made by God just for me.  I know that can’t be quite true in a rational sense, but, nevertheless, I have claimed certain of God’s promises through the years.  My confession to you is that I feel God has not fulfilled some of them.  Again, at a rational level, I realize that if God makes a promise, by his very nature, He must fulfill that promise.  He is honor-bound to do so.  Bur I honestly feel God has not kept some of his promises to me, that I have claimed. 

I’m not blaming God.  I’m not disappointed in God.  I’m not angry at God.  That’s simply how I feel about some of his promises.  Only with the passage of the future ages of time, and when I reach Eternal Realms, will I know the truth of the matter—and I am content with that.  I’m sharing this matter with you to let you know I’m very human, and because I know many of my readers have had similar feelings in relation to God’s promises.

At another level, I make a quality decision to believe all God’s promises will be fulfilled—simply because He is God and is at work in every human ever born, whether they’re still alive here in this life, or whether they’ve died and transitioned to the afterlife.  God will complete what He has begun in every human (Philippians 1: 6, for example)—including the promises He has made to all humanity.

One more thought in regard to my confession to you.  Yes, I do believe that some of God’s promises to all humankind (including to me) are conditional.  That is to say that the fulfillment of certain promises God has made to me are conditional upon something I do or do not do, in response to such promises.  But the vast majority of God’s promises to humanity are not conditional in any sense.  God has made them simply because He is a good God who wants nothing but good for the humans He has created.

Let’s continue on.  Acts 13: 32 – 34, coupled with 2 Corinthians 1: 20, states that in some mysterious manner, all God’s promises center on Jesus in one way or another—especially in the fact that God raised Jesus from the dead (by the power of Holy Spirit) after Jesus was killed.  For centuries, God had been promising his children in the Old Testament ,that a Savior would be born, that the Savior would die, and that God would raise Him from the dead.  The Bible proclaims that if Jesus was not raised from the dead—as God had promised—we who believe in Him are most deceived, and most miserable among humanity!  But God did fulfill his promise:  Jesus was raised from the dead, and through Him we now possess God’s eternal LIFE!

Moreover, Numbers 14: 21 in the Old Testament (written approximately 3,400 years ago) promises this:  “’As I live,’ promises God, ‘all the earth shall be filled with the Glory of the LORD.’”  That proclamation by God is one of the major promises He has made to humankind—and God will fulfill that promise! 

Following is God’s final promise to all humankind.  Based on his fulfillment of past promises, and based on his honorable and honest character and nature, we can take hope that this final promise will be fulfilled in its entirety.  Note:  this is my personal paraphrase of God’s final promise (based on reliable English translations) found in 1 Corinthians 15: 24 – 28:

 “Here’s God’s final promise—his final stage of completion.  Jesus will never stop crushing his opposition—all rulers, all powers, all authorities, until his last enemy—death—is subdued, defeated, and eliminated.  Then when Jesus is absolute Victor, He will submit Himself—and hand over his Kingdom—to God the Father.  That will be the final consummation of all things God has purposed.  God will then be All in all—absolutely everything to everyone…including all humanity.  God will be supreme, the indwelling and controlling factor of all life everywhere.  His rulership over all creation will at last be absolutely comprehensive—a perfect ending!”    

“Now may God, the source and fountain of all hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you place your hope in Him.  And may the inner power of Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his superabundant goodness until you radiate with hope!”  (Romans 15: 13, paraphrased)

NOTE:  Many more of my teachings and writings may be found on our ministry website, leservices.org    and my books may be found at billsbooks.org

Bill Boylan

Life Enrichment Services, Inc

leservices38@yahoo.com

Revised and Updated October 2020

Hope In God’s Nature

My dear friend, Gerry Beauchemin, has written two very popular, widely-read books:  Hope Beyond Hell and Hope For All.  I have read and re-read both books numerous times because they are such good primers for the biblical belief that eventually God is going to restore, redeem, and reconcile all creation—including all humanity—to Himself.  His two books are  excellent introductions to that biblical view.  I give away many copies of them.

In Hope For All, Gerry lists ten “anchors” or ten reasons why God gives hope to all humanity.  This teaching is my attempt at supplementing Anchor Eight, “Hope In God’s Nature.”  One characteristic I see in Gerry Beauchemin is that he consistently exhibits and displays God’s character and nature in his own life, in a manner I don’t see in many believers in Jesus; I don’t say that to bring attention to Gerry, but, rather, to give one example of how God weaves his character and nature into our lives as we cooperate with Him in doing so.  I consistently see reflections of God’s character and nature in Gerry’s day-to-day life.  Gerry is certainly not perfect (God alone is perfect), but he does display many aspects of God’s good character and nature.

Gerry begins Anchor Eight with this critical truth:  “Knowing that God loves everyone is the only basis on which we can be assured that He loves any of us.”  That not only reflects clear biblical teaching, but is also a statement that agrees with moral reason and logic.  God’s very nature is love; as the Bible states very simply and unequivocally:  “…God is love.”  Yes, God’s basic character and nature is love.  That being the case—since in his very being, He is infinite and eternal—then his love for all humanity must be infinite and eternal.   It cannot be otherwise if God is really God.

In his famous chapter about love in the Bible (1 Corinthians 13), Paul the Apostle presents a lengthy listing about the characteristics of love.  Although he is writing about displaying love among and between humans, certainly these characteristics about love are true of God’s love from which flows all human love.  Here are some of those loving characteristics of God, Who is love, as presented in The Passion Translation (with some additional paraphrasing by me): 

“God’s love is incredibly, infinitely patient.  His love is gentle and consistently kind to all.  God doesn’t brag about his achievements, nor inflate his own importance.  God does not ever shame or disrespect anyone.  God never selfishly seeks his own honor.  God is not easily irritated, nor quick to take offense. God joyfully celebrates honesty, and finds no delight in wrongdoing.  God’s love is a safe place of shelter, for He never stops believing the best of humanity.  God never stops loving.  God’s love extends beyond all of his other gifts to humanity.” 

Such statements about God’s essential and basic character and nature of love (and many more such statements) throughout the entire Bible, certainly override any seemingly contrary statements about his wrath, anger, punishment, correction, discipline, and the like, when properly understood.  In fact, such contradictory statements, actually flow mysteriously and inexplicably from God’s overarching, overwhelming, love for all humanity.     

It is axiomatic that love (both God’s love and human love) is not necessarily something felt, but it is “action.”  For example, we humans prove our love for another by our actions toward that other person.  Certainly human love involves feelings, but such love is expressed toward others by our actions on their behalf.  If it’s simply feelings without action, then it is merely a self-centered feeling of no value to the one who is loved.  To say one loves someone else—without any loving action toward that other person—is simply not love.  To say I love someone, but not act as if I love them is merely empty and futile words.

God’s action, to express his love toward humanity, was to come to earth in God-human form, and die on Calvary’s cross to reconcile all humanity to Himself (2 Corinthians 5: 19).  For God simply to have told humanity He loved us, would have been of no real value without Him having taken action to demonstrate and express that love!  The essence of God (all of God:  Father, Son, and Spirit) was in Jesus, reconciling all humanity to Himself.  God was not angry with humanity.  He did not send to assuage his anger and wrath.  No, God was in Jesus reconciling all of us to Himself because of his infinite and eternal love for us:  for YOU, for me!  God loved us so much that He chose to die for us.  He wants us to love Him so much that we choose to live for Him.

There is this about God’s love:  He shows no favoritism among humans.  The rich are not favored over the poor.  The handsome and beautiful are not favored over those not so good-looking.  The smart are not favored over those not so smart.  God does not favor a certain skin color, nationality, or race over another.  He does not favor those who are believers in Jesus, over those who are pre-believers in Jesus.  He does not have more compassion over those who are infirm, crippled, or ill, than he has over those who are healthy and whole.  In expressing his love for all humankind, God shows absolutely no favoritism.

Gerry Beauchemin writes this compelling statement concerning whether or not God shows favoritism:  “It may appear as though God shows favoritism because He is not revealing Himself to everyone right now, and all hearts are not being changed.  The problem is we’re not seeing the big picture.  God reveals Himself to some sooner than to others, because He plans to work through them to reach all people—in the fullness of time, in the context of the ages to come.  Our Father carries all humanity in his heart.”  

That profound statement carries the answer to the question many detractors of God’s all-inclusive love ask:  “If God is going to eventually save everyone, why bother serving Him and telling others about Him in this life?”  In addition to Gerry’s statement serving to partially answer that question, there is another answer to “Why serve God?”  Simply because God is our loving Heavenly Father and He has commanded us to serve Him and tell others about his great love  (Matthew 28: 18 – 20 and Mark 16: 15 – 18).  If we love Him, then we shall be obedient children and tell others of his great love for them.

Yes, God’s basic character and nature is love—for his entire creation, including all humanity.  He is slowly but surely implanting those characteristics in us during this mortal life—and will continue to do so in the ages of time to come, and then in the Eternal State.

Finally, in Anchor Eight, Gerry Beauchemin writes about human “free will in God’s will.”  I have recently addressed that matter in another  teaching on my website.  I furnish that teaching—in part—as follows.

About 20 years ago I began keeping a file labeled “Human Free Will” in which I jotted down some of my own thoughts as they occurred to me, some thoughts Holy Spirit gave to me, and some thoughts I gleaned from various books and other literature I read.  I failed to write down the names of some of those writers and their literature in which I read their thoughts about this subject. 

So, this teaching is a compilation of my own thinking, Holy Spirit’s thinking, and the thinking of unnamed other people over a period of about 20 years.  I cannot take full credit for what you will read in this teaching.  That’s my confession to you. 

I’ve been very hesitant to write this teaching about so-called human “free will” because I know how sacrosanct this subject is among most people who believe in the Bible.  The prevailing “orthodox” view is that the Bible clearly teaches that human beings have been given completely unlimited, free will by our Creator.  To question that view is to question a very widely held, supposedly inviolable view.  Well, I’m questioning that view, and here’s why…

                First, bear in mind that the two-word term “free will” doesn’t appear anywhere in the Bible—except for a few places in the context of “free will” financial offerings to God.  It’s a two-word term that was contrived and formulated by theologians and Bible students through the centuries of Church history in an attempt to explain theologically the interaction between the sovereign purposes of God for humans—and human responses to those purposes.  It’s a human-devised “theological construct”—if you need a theological term for the concept of “free will.”  The term is taught only in theological circles, not, for example, in business, economic, psychological, or sociological circles, or the like.  It is an entirely human-contrived theological teaching.   

                If God is really God—totally and completely sovereign over all creation (every thing and every being)—then He is the only Being who possesses unlimited “free will” in the absolute sense of the term.  It logically follows, then, that any sentient (meaning self-aware, such as humans) beings within God’s creation can possess free will only in a limited sense of the term.  Yes, if humans have free will in any sense, it can be only finite, limited free will.

                In one sense, even the sovereign God is limited in the exercise of his will.  How can that be?  The Bible clearly teaches that God is love—not that God has love or exhibits love or possesses love.  No, God is love.  His essential character and nature is love.  Thus, God is not free to do anything that doesn’t flow from his essential nature of love.  That’s the only sense in which God doesn’t have unlimited free will; He cannot do anything that’s not totally loving.

                The human soul (mind) is “wired” like a vast switchboard, perhaps not all of the time, or even most of the time, to make possible the exercise of free choice, or at least an extraordinarily large range of possible choices—but not an unlimited range.  Yes, there is such a thing as a vast range of free choices, but humans do not have absolute, unlimited freedom of choice as only God possesses.

                Because of the presence of sin in the fallen human condition, often overpowering instincts (such as fear, along with what we have been taught and how we have grown up as fallen, sinful beings in a certain era, society, and culture) predetermine our responses, choices, decisions, and actions.  Humans are never completely free of such “background forces” in our makeup every time we make choices and decisions. 

Here’s an example of such limiting background forces in our lives:  Think of the way in which we who live in the 21st century might make a certain choice about a given matter as contrasted with how a lowly serf in feudal Europe 1,000 years ago might make a choice.  We are “products” of our culture, and thus limited in any choices we might make.  Here’s another simple, kind of “hokey,” example:  While we may have free will to jump to the moon some 243,000 miles away, we are prevented and limited in doing so by physical limitations of space, gravity, our own limited physical strength, etc.  Only cows can jump over the moon as they do in children’s nursery rhymes.

We always make choices and decisions based upon a “tempered” version of such limited free will.  God’s choices and decisions are never limited in any way because He “sees all and knows all.”  We don’t.  Thus, the choices all humans make are always limited in some manner; we always “see through a glass darkly,” as the Bible puts it.  God has the liberty of always making his choices and decisions based upon full and complete knowledge.  We don’t.

We always make our choices and decisions based upon our current states of awareness and present levels of understanding—which are always limited and incomplete at any given moment when we make our choices and decisions.  That’s all we can ever do:  make our choices and decisions based upon our current states of awareness and present levels of understanding.  We always make only the best decisions we can make at any given time.

Let me illustrate in the following manner—in another way—what I’ve been attempting to write…  For any human being to make a completely free will choice at any given instant in time, that person would need to have total and complete information about the matter about which the choice or decision needs to be made.  Just as God has complete and total information when He makes choices and decisions.  Without total and complete information at the time, any human’s choices could not be complete and total free will choices.

At any given instant in time, our five senses are assaulted with about 14,000,000 separate bits of information every second!  The “bandwidth of human consciousness” can take in and process only about 18-20 bits of external information per second.  In fact, there is a web-shaped group of cells at the base of our brains called “the reticular activating system,” with which we were created to “filter” incoming sensory information—otherwise, we would go on “overload,” and our brains would be “fried” instantly by those millions of bits of incoming data every second. 

Thus, any free will choice we make at any given moment in time is based, first, upon our very faulty and untrustworthy memory of past events and information we have stored in our conscious and subconscious “memory banks” in terms of images and remembered experiences.  Second, such a free will choice is based upon only 18 bits of data available to us at the moment we make our decision, not upon the 14 million bits of data we would need to process in order to make a full and complete choice or decision in that given situation.

As to our memories restricting our choices in life, some recent research informs us that every time we call up a memory, that memory changes just a little.  For example, if you have a memory about when you were 4 years old wearing a blue dress at a party, the next time you have that same memory the dress might be a different shade of blue.

The only factors that assist us in making the “best” choices and decisions, in given situations, are that if we are Jesus-believers we are continually coming to know the truth more and more as we come to know Jesus progressively more intimately—because He is THE Truth.  Knowing Him helps us make better, more informed decisions and choices, but they will always remain limited because we will always remain finite, limited beings.  Only God is infinite and unlimited, and only God can make genuine “free will” choices and decisions.

Here’s sort of a bottom-line statement about this entire matter:  We humans feel we’re completely free to choose; on the contrary we’re probably not nearly as free to choose as we like to convince ourselves—and tell ourselves—we’re free to choose.

God is absolutely sovereign over the affairs of his universe and everything in it—including you!  God, as Creator, is “owner” of all things (Psalm 2: 8;  Ezekiel 18: 4;  Colossians 1: 16; Hebrews 1: 2, for example), and that includes you and me.  He has never relinquished his sovereign ownership of all things.  Only God has absolute “free” will over the “property” He “owns.” 

Many believe God’s hands are tied; as much as He would like to save us, deliver us and keep all of us, He is unable.  But, is our power to destroy his property really greater than his power to preserve or restore it?  How “free” and powerful are we?  What role did we play in controlling our life experiences that have made us who and what we are?  What faulty, limited intricacies of our reasoning processes, which determine our decisions, do we fully control?

Is the Bible correct in stating no one seeks after God, that our natural mind is at odds with Him and not subject to His law? “Indeed it cannot be subject,” said Paul (Romans 3:  11; 8:  7).  How can a naturally hostile mind, that cannot subject itself to God, of its own free will subject itself to God?  Only God can give us faith and draw us to Himself;  we cannot muster up faith and draw ourselves to Him.  (Romans 12: 3; John 6: 44 and 12: 32, for example)

To idolize free will as though it were the crux of our salvation, contradicts the Bible and fosters a boastful attitude that it is we who save ourselves!  What are we implying when we infer that God is helpless in the face of human free will?  It intimates that our salvation depends on human power, not God’s power.  Thus God is stripped of His power and glory, leaving the blood of Jesus powerless to save all humanity for whom it was shed.   In fact, it negates the very definition of God as “Almighty,” leaving us with no real God at all.

The Old Testament story of Joseph in Egypt pictures God powerfully working behind the scenes, influencing the wills of people.  Who of these people thought their will was not solely their own?  Yet God, in His infinite power, was at work accomplishing His purposes through their decisions (Genesis 45:  5).  Even while Pharaoh resisted Moses, God was at work fulfilling His purposes.  Where was Pharaoh’s “free” will?

What about such Bible references as the following (and many more)?

 The king’s heart is a stream…in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He will (Proverbs 21: 1).

  • The way of a person is not in himself;  it is not in people  who walk to direct their own steps (Jeremiah 10: 23).
  • God does according to His will among the inhabitants of the earth.  No one can restrain His hand (Daniel 4: 35).
  • Those…were born…not of human will, but of God (John 1: 12, 13).
  • No one can come to Me unless the Father…draws [drags] him (Jesus in John  6: 44;  12: 32).
  • Without Me you can do noth­ing (Jesus in John. 15: 5).
  • You did not choose Me, but I chose you…  (Jesus in John 15: 16).
  • It does not depend on the person who wills or the person who runs but on God who has mercy (Romans 9: 16 )
  • You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault?  For who has resisted God’s  will?” (Romans 9: 19).
  •  [God] predestined people…to the purpose of Him who works all… according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians  1: 11).
  • God works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure (Philippians 2: 13).

What are we saying to God in “deifying” and idolizing the will of humans, making them all-powerful instead of God? 

  • You [God] cannot have what is yours (Romans 11: 36).
  • You [God] cannot find what you have lost (Luke 15: 4).
  • Isaiah was wrong about your [God’s] hand not being so short it cannot save (Isaiah 59: 1).
  • The Bible exaggerates in saying nothing is too difficult for you [God]   (Jeremiah 32: 17)
  • People have robbed the keys of  Hades from You [God] (Revelation 1: 18).
  • He who is in the world [Satan] is stronger than You (1 John 4: 4).
  • God, your sacrifice for all the people of the world is really only for a few people (1 John 2: 2).
  • God, your promises to reconcile all things are just exaggerated hopes (Acts 3: 21).
  • God, your hands are tied.  You cannot accomplish all your will. (Isaiah  55: 11).
  • All creatures will not really worship you as You “hope” they will.  (Revelation 5: 13;  Philippians  2: 10-11).

Given that Bible translators are human, they are naturally inclined to conform the text they are translating to their own worldview; it’s just human nature.  Since most have believed in the sovereignty of human will, many translators have weakened the sense of phrases such as “to will” and “to purpose” with “to desire” and “to wish” when referring to God.  Thus, God is seen as merely “desiring” things instead of “willing” them.

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have [“desires”–NKJV] all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time(1Timothy  2: 3-6 ).

Tradition has taught that God will not save a person against their will.  I agree.  However, He has the power to orchestrate whatever circumstances are necessary to cause one’s will to change.  No one has complete or perfect knowledge of God.  So when a person “rejects” a given concept of God, they are not, in truth, rejecting the true God, but only their partial or flawed understanding of Him.  Only Jesus truly knows Him, and the person to whom He chooses to reveal Him (Matthew 11: 27;  Luke 10: 22;  John  6: 46).  If Jesus has not “revealed” the Father in truth to someone, can that person be held accountable for rejecting what was not really made known to them?

Once a fuller understanding of God is given to each of us in the ages to come (Ephesians 2: 7), all humanity will bow and confess Jesus is Lord, just as Isaiah and Paul prophesied (Isaiah 45: 21-25; Romans 14: 11;  1 Corinthians 12: 3;  Philippians 2: 9-11).  Who would want to continue in active and persistent rebellion, knowing God wants only what is best for them?  Knowing the great, unlimited goodness and love of God, along with Holy Spirit working in their hearts, these hardened hearts must eventually soften in the face of God’s great love for them. 

It is impossible that an omnipotent God can fail in His purposes, and that some humans would forever resist unconditional love, opting, instead, for suffering and loss.  This would be totally irrational.  And even if one were that irrational, such resistance would not arise out of a “free” will, but an “enslaved” will, a will in bondage to a mind of limited thinking, understanding, and comprehension.

“Free” will?  Have you really thought it through?  Are God’s hands really tied by it?   Your belief or disbelief  in “free” will must inevitably be determined by your view of God’s sovereign will and His power.  The biggest factor overlooked by those who say God will not violate man’s “free” will, is the fact that man does not own himself.   Can man’s puny, finite, limited will “trump” God’s sovereign will?

Please think carefully about this.  Do you really think God would place a higher value on man’s self-destructive “free” will than He does His own loving and gracious will for a person whom He “owns”?  Such freedom would in effect be an illusion, for such absolute freedom would be bondage of the worst kind imaginable.  Why is it that our tradition will only accept human will as “free,” if it leads someone to age-lasting destruction, but cannot accept it as “free” if it leads a person to have God’s own eternal LIFE in them, though God’s LIFE for everyone is God’s will (Philippians 2: 9-11;  Romans 14: 11)?

                Do YOU really have unlimited free will that is stronger than God’s will?

“Now may God, the source and fountain of all hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you place your hope in Him.  And may the inner power of Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his superabundant goodness until you radiate with hope!”  (Romans 15: 13, paraphrased)

NOTE:  Many more of my teachings and writings may be found on this website, and my books may be found at billsbooks.org

Bill Boylan

Life Enrichment Services, Inc

leservices38@yahoo.com

Revised and Updated October 2020

Hope In Our Father

As of this writing I’ve known Gerry Beauchemin, author of two popular books, Hope Beyond Hell and Hope For All, for about a decade.  However, I don’t know much about Gerry’s early life or any of his biographical, family history; those facts about his personal history have just never come up in our many discussions.  For example, I don’t know anything about Gerry’s relationship with his biological father.

But, I do know a lot about Gerry’s loving, close relationship with his Heavenly Father.  I know Gerry deeply loves his Heavenly Father—and I know our Heavenly Father loves Gerry with a deep, abiding eternal love—as God equally loves all of us.  Gerry has a deep inner sense that his Heavenly Father loves him—and all humanity equally.

In Hope For All, Gerry writes about ten “anchors” or ten reasons why God gives hope to all humanity.  The seventh reason for that hope given all humanity by God is what I will be presenting in this teaching—to supplement what Gerry has written about our Heavenly Father.

One thing I do know about Gerry is that he has a deep and abiding respect for the Bible, God’s written revelation of Himself to humankind.  Gerry believes—as I do—that the Bible is the written Word of God.  Gerry knows many principles of Bible study, one of them being that all topics or subjects in the Bible always have one specific verse, chapter, reference, or passage that summarizes or encapsulates that particular topic or subject.

Concerning the subject of God as our Father, Gerry has often referred to Matthew 7: 9 – 11 as being a pivotal reference in understanding our Heavenly Father’s basic character and nature:  “Do you know of any parent who would give his hungry child, who asked for food, a plate of rocks instead?  Or when asked for a piece of fish, what parent would offer his child a snake instead? If you, imperfect as you are, know how to lovingly take care of your children and give them what’s best, how much more ready is your heavenly Father to give wonderful gifts to those who ask him?”  (The Passion Translation)

Gerry believes that the most wonderful gift our Heavenly Father gives to all his children—all humanity—is hope for all:  hope for their ultimate redemption, restoration, and reconciliation to God, beyond this life in Eternal Realms.  That is Gerry’s basic, bedrock belief about the character and nature of our Heavenly Father.  It’s the comprehensive, biblical teaching that comes from the Greek word, apokatastasis, the ultimate restoration to God of everything, including all humanity.

Again, Anchor Seven of Gerry’s book is about Hope in our Father.  This teaching is intended to be supplemental and supportive of Gerry’s teaching.

In the Old Testament portion of the Bible, written before the time of Jesus of Nazareth, God was not often called “Father.”  Yes, a few times He was called Father, but for the most part the concept of a loving, kind, good, caring Father was not known to more than a few individuals here and there in Old Testament history.  For the majority, the term Father seemed to be too familiar, too personal.  It brought God too close to earth, so to speak; God, it was believed, was a high and lofty Being, far above and beyond earth, somewhat out of reach of humanity.  It was felt by many that to speak too familiarly about God, as a Father, was not respectful of his holiness and other-ness.

It wasn’t until Jesus came on the scene that He began to talk consistently about God as his Father being a kind and loving Parent, who was deeply interested in the lives of individual humans.  In fact, that view of God by Jesus even sparked an incident in his life where the religious leaders of his day sought to kill Him because He spoke of God as a Father.  (John 5, for example)   

In his introductory remarks for Anchor Seven, Gerry addresses a prevailing view among many believers in Jesus that, yes, God is the Creator of all humanity, but He is not also their Father until they become believers in Jesus in this life.  If people do not invite Him to be their Father in this life, then they are doomed to eternal conscious torment in ever-burning fires.  Throughout Anchor Seven, Gerry does an excellent job of refuting that prevailing, false view of God as Creator, but not necessarily Father of humankind. Do not believe the mistaken (but probably well-intended) view that God is not the Father of all humanity! 

Also, in Anchor Seven of his book, Gerry does an excellent job of listing ten “affirmations” of the loving fatherhood of God toward all humanity.  I will address some of those ten affirmations because they are so rich in meaning.

In one of his ten affirmations, Gerry addresses both the ancient Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed, both of which are affirmed by millions of believers in Jesus at least every Sunday, if not more often at various other times.  The formulations of those ancient creeds were attempts by early believers in Jesus to summarize what they believed about God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; both creeds specifically mention God as Father.

Few early believers in Jesus had any copies of what we now know as the Old and New Testament scriptures.  So, the creeds were formulated to give early Jesus-believers  a “hook” on which to focus their thoughts and prayers as they gathered together (mostly in homes) to worship God.  Reciting (and discussing) the creeds aloud in unison was one way of affirming their unity in their diversity within the Church, the living Body of Jesus.

Not long ago, I took the liberty of “tweaking” both the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed to update them and put them in modern American English, without changing the basic wording and intent of the creeds.  I’ve been criticized for “tampering” with them, but it’s not as though I was tampering with and changing the Bible, God’s written word.  After all, such creeds are merely human attempts to encapsulate and summarize what the Bible teaches; the creeds are not on a level with God’s written Word, the Bible.  Here are my updated versions of both creeds; I hope they are helpful and meaningful to you.  I often recite them in my own daily, private times I spend visiting with God, reciting and affirming the Apostles Creed on even-numbered days and the Nicene Creed on odd-numbered days:

The Apostles Creed

We believe in one God:

The all-loving, all-knowing, all-present, all-power-full Father,

Creator of all, including planet earth and all upon it. 

We place our faith in Jesus of Nazareth, God the Son, our Savior and Master,

Conceived by God the Holy Spirit.

Born of the virgin Mary,

He suffered under Pontius Pilate,

Was crucified, died, and was buried;

While his dead body lay in the tomb,

He visited the realm of the dead, preaching to them

God’s salvation and restoration of all.

On the third day, God the Holy Spirit brought Him to life again.

He then returned to heaven.

He is now seated at the right hand of God the Father,

And will return to render righteous judgment through grace

To both the living and the dead.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit,

Who maintains and sustains all that is.

He is the breath of God, the wind of God, God in action;

Without Him there is nothing.

 We believe in the universal Church, the living Body of Jesus, allwhere and allwhen, and

The fellowship and intimate connectedness and communion of all believers in Jesus.

We believe in the forgiveness of all the sin of all humanity.

The resurrection of the body and soul,

And LIFE to come in the timeless Eternal Realms.  Amen

The Nicene Creed

We believe in the one True, Living God, a Tri-une Being:

The eternal, infinite, all-loving, all-knowing, all power-full, sovereign God,

Creator of all, Father of all.

We believe in Jesus of Nazareth, God the Son,

Of one being with the Father.

Through Him all things were created, cohere, adhere, and consist.

For us and for our salvation

Jesus came from Heaven;

By the power of God the Holy Spirit

Jesus was born of the virgin Mary

And became fully human, while remaining fully God.

On behalf of all humanity, Jesus was crucified.

He died on the cross and was buried.

On the third day Jesus rose again

In accordance with the Old Testament Scriptures;

Jesus returned to Heaven

And is seated at the right hand of the Father’s Throne.

Jesus will come again to render righteous judgment

To the living and the dead,

And Jesus’ Kingdom is eternal.                       

We believe in God the Holy Spirit, the giver of LIFE,

Who is One with the Father and the Son.

With the Father and the Son, He is worshipped.

He has communicated with all humanity through the Bible.

He is the power of God, the wind of God, the breath of God,

God in action, in all humanity and all creation.

We believe in one universal Church, allwhere and allwhen.

We acknowledge one baptism in water (with several applications)  for believers in Jesus.

We believe in Holy Spirit’s sovereign connectedness and unity of all believers.

We eagerly await our resurrection from death,

And LIFE in Jesus’ kingdom on the Restored Earth

and in Eternal Realms to come.  Amen.

Affirmation Eight of Gerry’s “Ten Affirmations of Fatherhood” is about the biblical teaching of our adoption by God.  Gerry makes two very clear points about God’s adoption as taught in the New Testament.  I want to make this third point—another aspect of adoption according to Roman customs of the times.  A child (not necessarily a male) would be taught in the home by various tutors, in different areas of learning.  After years of tutoring (usually ending around age 18) the family would conduct a public ceremony of adoption. 

In such a ceremony, the child would be “adopted” as a fully grown son or daughter in the household, now able to participate in and make decisions about the family business or profession; the child was now considered to be fully-grown and mature enough to take over the family business, if necessary.  In other words, this was not a ceremony to adopt a child into a family, but, rather, to adopt the child (who was already a member of the family) as being fully grown and mature enough to function as an adult in the family business or profession—or strike out on their own for more education or to start a business or profession of their own.

These are some of my own thoughts to supplement Gerry Beauchemin’s teachings about Anchor Seven, “Hope In Our Father.”  Gerry concludes this portion of his book, Hope For All, with this simple—but very profound—statement:  “God is everyone’s loving Father.”

“Now may God, the source and fountain of all hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you place your hope in Him.  And may the inner power of Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his superabundant goodness until you radiate with hope!”  (Romans 15: 13, paraphrased)

NOTE:  Many more of my teachings and writings may be found on our ministry website, leservices.org    and my books may be found at billsbooks.org

Bill Boylan

Life Enrichment Services, Inc

leservices38@yahoo.com

Revised and Updated October 2020

Hope In Death

In his popular book, Hope For All, Gerry Beauchemin does a comprehensive job of covering the biblical subject of death—especially hope in the afterlife for those persons who have not begun a relationship with God during this mortal life.  It is a common teaching throughout most of Christendom that people who do not become believers in Jesus in this life will not enter Heaven’s bliss upon their death.  In Gerry’s introductory remarks for Anchor Five (reason five) in Hope For All, why God gives hope even in death, he poses this critical question:  “Where does the Bible say death ends all hope of salvation?”

                Gerry then goes on to teach that death does not end all hope of salvation, citing ample references from the Bible to that effect—and offering sound logic and reason that death does not end all hope of salvation.

                I was struggling with how to supplement Gerry’s teaching about death when Holy Spirit whispered to me that I have already presented some teaching about the matter.  I placed on my website a number of years ago some thoughts I had originally taught about human death—and resurrection—to a small group of students during a Bible study in our home.  

                That teaching—with some revision and shortening—follows.

I love the way the word “Anastasia” sounds to my ears when it’s pronounced as the Germans or Russians pronounce it.  It has a mysterious, yet clear ring to it when pronounced the way they do.   Anastasia is a Greek word which is most commonly translated into the English word “resurrection” in much literature.  The concept of our resurrection following death is an important theme in the Bible.  Why is the subject of resurrection so important?

For starters, look at it this way.  The death of Jesus, all by itself, was just another death by the common Roman method of crucifixion, another end of a good life.  After He was killed, Jesus of Nazareth would have sunk into oblivion and been forgotten, but for one thing:  He came back to life!  He was resurrected!   He was raised from the dead by the power of God!

Everything ever written about Jesus has been written since his resurrection.  It is the resurrection of Jesus which sets Him apart from all other religious leaders in all of history:  they’re still dead.  He’s alive!  Take away Jesus’ resurrection, and being a believer in Jesus collapses.  Our faith is empty, futile, and worthless.  Nothing about Jesus would be worth discussing or writing about if He is not alive at this very moment.

Why is resurrection so important?  Billions and billions of people have lived and died on planet earth.  Did they just die—and that’s it?  Is that all there is?  Is death the end of it all?  Thousands of years ago, an ancient biblical person named Job asked the question:  “When people die, will they live again?”  (Job 14: 14)  Hundreds of years after Job died, Jesus answered Job’s age-old question:  “I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in Me, although he or she may die, will live again.”  (John 11: 25)

Sometimes I visit two cemeteries not far from my home.  My great-grandparents, my grandparents, my uncle, my parents, my sister, my sister-in-law, and other relatives are buried there.  Is that it?  Are they just going to sleep there forever?  Or is their dust the end of it all?  What’s it all about?  Also, I have a dear friend who will likely die within just a few days; I’m going to visit him tomorrow morning—probably for the last time.  After he dies, will he live again?  Will I see him again?

Jesus’ death, his burial, and his resurrection are three golden threads tightly interwoven and divinely inter-connected in God’s eternal purposes for you and me.  The three events cannot be understood apart from one another, for together they exhibit some of the wonderful purposes of God for all humankind.

In other teachings, I have written about how we are “one” with Jesus‘ death and burial.  We are somehow vitally fused with Him, too, in his resurrection:  we are one.  For away in the depths of my spirit today I have a very real awareness—by faith—that I was “there” to die with Jesus and was buried with Him.  I was also “there” with Him in his resurrection.

And that’s what we will now study together for a few moments:  how we literally and actually rose from the dead with and in Jesus.  We will touch upon amazing forces and events which were set in motion that bright day when Jesus strode forth from death’s dark tomb, the New Man, the Man from Heaven, the First-Born Son of a new race of beings!  That’s us . . . that’s us!

Back to anastasia.  The word means to be resurrected from death, to be awakened from the sleep of death.  It portrays a simple picture of awakening in the morning and getting out of bed after sleeping well during the night.  That’s what resurrection is:  to awaken from the sleep of death and get up.  It’s really that simple.  It won’t matter how long any of us sleep the sleep of death; we’ll awaken in the “morning” and get up.

There’s a lot of speculation about when and how we’ll awaken, what we’ll look like, how “old” we’ll be in heaven—matters of that nature.  I won’t go into any of those subjects.  I’m actually condensing approximately 40 hours of teaching about the resurrection in these few pages, so all we’ll be studying are a few of the highlights; there just isn’t space for more at this time without writing pages and pages and pages.

                I have to assume you know that we human beings are three-part beings, as God is a three-part being.  We were created with a spirit “encased” in a soul, encased in a body.  Body, soul, and spirit:  one in three, three in one.  Indivisible except by God and by his Word, the Bible.  You might want to look up 1 Thessalonians 5: 23 and Hebrews 4: 12 in that regard.  If you’re interested in much more detail about us humans being three in one, I recommend you read another teaching on my web site entitled Whole In One.

In brief, it seems clear to me from the Bible that when we die our spirits return to God, while our personalities (souls) and bodies sleep in the grave (or are buried at sea or cremated), awaiting God’s summons for us to awaken and get up some bright morning when Jesus returns to usher in his Kingdom on the freshly restored earth.

At the time of our death, our body—this earthly, mortal tabernacle, our “earth suit”—will melt away and our spirit will lift up as on eagle’s wings to return to God, shedding its confining physical bonds, loosing its gross fetters of our physicality.  It will rise up as if passing through layers of denser atmosphere, soaring up into God—into higher regions of clarity and light until it will be pure spirit returning to Him Who is the Father of all spirits.  It will finally be free to tear away from the peculiar prison of the clumsy and cumbersome earthen vessel (the human body) that previously contained it.

The Bible teaches that the personality (person) sleeps in death after the spirit has returned to God—the person as well as the body sleeps.  The Bible doesn’t limit death to the body alone.  When one sleeps at night it is the person who sleeps, not just the body.  There is no consciousness in truly sound sleep.  All dreaming occurs in the twilight area between consciousness and deep sleep.  The sleep induced by a general anesthesia for surgery is a good example of the deep sleep of death.

When we fall asleep in death, it is comforting to know that sleep obliterates the interval of time between the moment of death and the moment of resurrection.  To our consciousness, the moment of resurrection will seem to instantly follow the moment of death—whether we’ve slept in death a thousand years, a few centuries, or only a few days by solar time.  As far as your consciousness is concerned, the next fraction of a second after you die you will be awakened in your resurrection, even though many years or centuries may have passed in actual time.  Yes, death brings instant awakening to full consciousness in your resurrection.

Incidentally, we’ve read and heard much the last few years about so-called near death experiences (NDE’s) when people leave their bodies, travel down long tunnels, meet relatives and friends who have died, experience being engulfed in a bright light, etc.  In my mind, those are not near death experiences; rather, they are visions of actual death experiences in which the persons experiencing them have actually died—and then “instantly” awakened in the future at their resurrection.  That’s why it seems to them only moments after their death that they begin to have those experiences.

Please understand that is mere speculation on my part, but it seems more reasonable to me and seems to better “fit” what I understand about death and resurrection—never having experienced either of them yet!  I have no idea why such visions of death experiences happen to some people; however, I believe they are real.  I just happen to think they’re visions of actual death experiences (in the future resurrected state) rather than near death experiences . . . based upon my present understanding of what the Bible teaches about such matters.

Let’s return to the subject of death being mere sleep.  The best biblical example is that of Jesus’ friend, Lazarus.  He had been dead for four days (John 11: 17), but was awakened from the sleep of death by Jesus.  As far as we know, Lazarus had no consciousness during those four days—rather, he was in the deep sleep of death.  Jesus said, “Our friend Lazarus is sleeping, but I will awaken him from his sleep.”  (John 11: 11)  If you want to know a little of what your own resurrection will be like, this incident about Lazarus is somewhat of a pattern or prototype—not exactly, but somewhat.

The following is not a point I would argue with anyone, because there is so much about the subject of resurrection we simply don’t know since it hasn’t happened yet to any of us who are still living this mortal life.  It seems clear to me the Bible teaches there will be two resurrections (or maybe they’re just sequentially two points on a continuum).  Here are some references you can study yourself and see why I feel that the Bible teaches there will be two resurrections:

First resurrection:  1 Thessalonians 4: 14 – 17;  1 Corinthians 15: 49 – 53;  Revelation 20: 4 – 6.

Second resurrection:  John 5: 28 and 29;  Acts 24: 14 and 15; Ezekiel 37: 1 – 14;  Revelation 20: 4 – 15.

I’ve taught again and again and again through the years (in person and in print) that we are in Jesus.  We are permanently fused and connected with Him in his death and burial.  You must come to see you are also permanently in Him in his resurrection.

Old things passed away when we became one with Jesus in his death and burial; now, behold! all things become new in our being one with Him in his resurrection.  Just as certainly as Jesus was raised from his sleep of death by the power of God the Holy Spirit, from the overarching vantage point of eternity we are already risen with Him, children of the resurrection!  (Luke 20: 36)

We must understand clearly the resurrection is not merely a comforting event to occur sometime in the distant future.  The great fundamental fact we must comprehend is that the resurrection is above all else a Person, and that Person is none other than Jesus who died, who was buried, and who rose again!

The day will come for each of us when family and friends will place our bodies in a coffin (or our ashes in an urn) and bury us under the ground or at sea (or burn our bodies like they do in some cultures).  I cannot believe that such an event is gross, distasteful, and horrible to any person who has identified himself or herself with Jesus in his death, burial, and resurrection.  It is but a brief time of peaceful sleep which the Bible calls being “asleep in Jesus.”  (1 Thessalonians 4: 14)

Your resurrection in Jesus is the difference between meaningless, dark, and dreadful death with no hope beyond the grave—and true LIFE incorruptible and eternal.  He who died and was buried is forevermore alive.  He is risen.  Hallelujah, He is alive . . . and we shall live also!

There is a concept taught in the Bible having to do with the Feasts celebrated by the ancient Israelites (and by many Israelites—Jews—today).  It is a concept containing many metaphors and symbolic word-pictures about our resurrection.  The concept is that of “First Fruits.”  The ancient Israelites celebrated three major Feasts annually (those same feasts are still celebrated to some extent by certain modern Israelites—and even by some Jesus-believers).

The three Feasts are the Feast of Passover, the Feast of Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles.  (Exodus 23 and Leviticus 23)  Also celebrated during or “within” those three major Feast-events were seven “minor” events:  three during Passover, one during Pentecost, and three during Tabernacles.

Jesus “fulfilled” the first Feast by being the Passover Lamb who was THE sacrifice and whose blood was shed for the sin of all humanity.  At the conclusion of the first Feast, Passover, the ancient Israelites would take one sheaf of newly ripened grain and wave it before God as the first sign of a ripening harvest to come.  With the waving of that first sheaf of grain, the Israelites were reminded of the fact that a great harvest was soon to be gathered in. 

1 Corinthians 15: 20 and 23 calls Jesus the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep in death.  When resurrected, He was “waved” before God signifying a great harvest to follow.  What is the great harvest to follow?  We are!  Jesus said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains a single grain.  If it dies, however, it springs forth into an abundant harvest of grain.”  (John 12: 24)  It is clear from the context that Jesus was speaking of his own death, burial, and resurrection.

But the New Testament teaches we who are “in” Jesus are also a type of first fruits of the coming harvest (James 1: 18 and Revelation 14: 4).  Jesus is the first fruits, but we are also first fruits “in” Him.

I’m only touching upon the highlights of the marvelous teachings found in these three major Feasts (including the seven minor events contained within them).  We won’t have space to teach anything at all about the second major Feast, Pentecost.  Maybe some day . . .

The third major Feast, Tabernacles (sometimes called the Feast of Ingathering, too), contained three “minor” events:  the Feast of Trumpets, the Feast of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles.

The Feast of Trumpets suggests to us that there will come a time when those who are asleep in Jesus will hear a trumpet call resounding so loudly from the portals of eternity that the dead in Jesus cannot help but be awakened from their sleep (1 Corinthians 15: 52).

Ancient Israel had two (sometimes three) growing seasons, each one ending in a great harvest.  I’ve already mentioned waving the sheaf of grain (Jesus) to signify a great harvest to follow (that’s us) at the end of the first growing season.  The great harvest during the last Feast, the Feast of Ingathering, is when all people who are asleep will be “harvested”—in addition to those who have been sleeping in Jesus.  (John 5: 27 – 29)  It is the great harvest at the end of the ages of time when all persons will be summoned to the throne of grace in the courtroom of God, there to give an account of what relationship (or lack of one) they have had with Jesus.

Jesus, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep in death.  Then those who are in Him, the following first fruits.  Finally, the remainder of humankind who sleep in death.  When all is said and done, it all rests upon one person, Jesus, and upon one event:  Jesus’ resurrection.  He is the resurrection and the Life. Those who believe in Him, though they are dead, shall live!

Earlier, I referred to a couple of nearby cemeteries which I sometimes visit.  I don’t do so in order to be morbid or sad.  They’re quiet, serene places at the eastern edge of the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota.  To the west, the majestic hills begin their climb to the heights.  To the east, the rolling Dakota prairies begin their long march to the Missouri River and beyond.

The soft winds whisper through the pines and the prairie grasses.  The sun and rains and winter snows gently caress the mown grasses of the cemeteries.  They are peaceful places situated on gently sloping hillsides—places full of rich memories and comforting thoughts I have of loved ones who have fallen asleep before me.  My memories are rich and full as I contemplate those who have preceded me in the great mysterious adventure we call death.  From God’s eternal perspective not limited to time or space, I know they have “already” awakened (in a manner of speaking) from their long sleep and are basking in the golden glow of God’s bright splendor on the rich table lands of Jesus’ coming Kingdom.  They wait for me to join them there some bright morning.

On the gravestone of one of my ancestors—a great-great-uncle whom I never knew and who died at an early age—there is this faded inscription, almost unreadable now from the ravages of winds and storms and the passing years:

“Another link is broken in our family band,

But a golden chain is forming in a better land.”

In Jesus, we are one with Him, one with all those who have preceded us in the sleep of death, one with all those who live now, one with all those who will yet live in Jesus.  We all march on inexorably through the passing centuries to our final time of sleep.  But some bright morning, we shall see the Lord of Harvest face-to-face when He summons us to come forth and awaken from the long, long sleep of death.  Yes, because He lives, we can face all our tomorrows and the inevitability of death, knowing it is merely a falling asleep followed by an “instant” awakening.

I have not written these words in an attempt to convince you of the reality of your resurrection.  Either you are in Jesus and believe you will be resurrected, or you do not believe you will be resurrected.  Neither have I written in order to reaffirm my own faith in the resurrection; I settled that issue in my own spirit and mind many years ago.  My own resurrection is as real to me as living this mortal life is real to me.  In some ways my resurrection into an immortal life in RealRealm is even more real than the mortal life I now live in ShadowLand.

No, I have written at length about Resurrection simply because it is something that will one day actually happen to everyone reading this teaching—to every human ever born.  It is a subject each of us needs to settle in our own minds and spirits.  If you don’t believe in Jesus’ resurrection and in your own, I ask you this question:  “Why even bother considering yourself a Jesus-believer?”  If there is no resurrection, there is no Christianity;  there are merely a lot of nice sayings by a person named Jesus of Nazareth who lived and died and who was buried many centuries ago.  If there is no resurrection, his body has since turned to fine dust and has been dispersed to the four corners of the earth by the relentless winds of time.

No resurrection, no living Lord Jesus.  No Christianity.  No Church.  No reason to pretend.  No reason to play at being a Jesus-believer in whom Jesus lives in his “unbodied form” of the Holy Spirit.  No Holy Spirit who lives inside us, energizing, empowering, and motivating us to live in Jesus, following and serving Him.  If there is no resurrection, none of it makes any sense; it is all nonsense and religious foolishness.  As the Bible puts it, if there is no resurrection, our faith is in vain and we are of all persons most pitiable.  (1 Corinthians 15: 19)

Dear reader, you need to settle this issue in your own spirit and mind.  Is Jesus alive today?  Is He alive in you?  Does He live in other people?  Is He your resurrection and your Life?

“Now may God, the source and fountain of all hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you place your hope in Him.  And may the inner power of Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his superabundant goodness until you radiate with hope!”  (Romans 15: 13, paraphrased)

NOTE:  Many more of my teachings and writings may be found on our ministry website, leservices.org    and my books may be found at billsbooks.org

Bill Boylan

Life Enrichment Services, Inc.

leservices38@yahoo.com

Revised and Updated October 2020

Hope In Ancient Greek

I became a believer in Jesus many years ago, and have been one of his followers ever since.  One of the first things I did after becoming a believer in Jesus was to purchase my first Bible; before that, I had never owned a Bible, nor had I ever read anything from the Bible.  I read through the entire Bible within just a few days after purchasing it.  I became enthralled by the Bible and over time came to understand that the Bible is God’s final, written revelation of Himself to humanity.  Since that first reading, I have read completely through the Bible over 100 times; I’m not attempting to impress you.  I have simply come to believe Jesus’ clear statement:  “People need more than food to satisfy them and to stay alive.  They must feed on every word that God speaks.”  (Matthew 4: 4, paraphrased)

                Also, through the years of my earthly pilgrimage, I have come to understand that God reveals Himself to humanity in other ways, and—because He is infinite and eternal—we humans (being finite) will never cease learning about God; we will never stop growing in our relationship with God, and that will involve us ever studying and learning from the Bible throughout all the future ages of time and in the Eternal State.  Unfortunately, many people believe that after Jesus returns to earth to establish his eternal Kingdom headquartered on the freshly restored earth, that the Bible will simply vanish in some mysterious manner.  That will not be the case:  the Bible is an eternal book!  (Psalm 119: 89 and Matthew 24: 35)

                Not very many years after I became a believer in Jesus and continued to read and study the Bible almost daily, I began to get a sense that the Bible was teaching me some concepts and views I was not hearing being taught in such places as churches, adult Sunday School classes, and on the radio.  I began to sense the Bible teaches that ultimately God will redeem, restore, and reconcile all humanity to Himself.  I began to see that emerge as a major theme of the Bible, but I wasn’t hearing anyone teach that view.  In fact, just the opposite seemed to be the case:  most Bible teaching I was hearing and reading taught that ultimately the majority of humanity would suffer eternal conscious torment in an ever-burning hell while only a relatively small percentage of humanity would go to heaven.  That contradiction between what I was learning on my own from the Bible and what I was learning to the contrary, served to confuse me for quite some time.

                I started to understand there was even a name for the biblical view I was learning:  apokatastasis, a Greek word (Acts 3:  21) translated into English as “restoration.”  That tipped me off:  perhaps if I understood more of the 3 original languages (Hebrew, Aramiac, and Greek) in which the Bible was written, that understanding would help me in my quest for clarification and truth.  

                Now let us “fast forward” to the present.  About a decade ago, I met a man named Gerry Beauchemin who had written two popular, easy-to-read books about apokatastasis:  “Hope Beyond Hell” and “Hope For All.”  I became so impressed with Gerry’s books that I began giving them away to interested people, and to date have given away scores (if not hundreds of them).  In my opinion, they are the best introductory books available that clearly teach what the Bible says about apokatastasis.          

                In Hope For All, Gerry writes about ten “Anchors” or reasons why God (and the Bible) offers hope for all humanity.  Recently, I have had occasion to teach some supplemental information about four of those anchors.  Even more recently, Holy Spirit asked me to prepare some teaching about all ten anchors.  What you are reading right now is my fourth supplemental teaching about those ten reasons Gerry writes about in his book.

                Anchor Four in Gerry’s book is essentially about Greek words having to do with time and eternity that have been largely mistranslated into English, creating much teaching based upon those words that simply is not true.  Gerry does a masterful job of explaining what the Greek words really mean.  If one were to go through Anchor Four, and write in the margins of one’s  Bible the correct English definitions of each Greek word where they appear in the Bible, much confusion about God’s purposes for humanity in the afterlife could be completely clarified.

                I was finding Anchor Four very difficult to teach as a supplement to Gerry’s coverage of that anchor—because Gerry has done such a complete job of covering what the ancient Greek language of the New Testament teaches about time and eternity in relation to  apokatastasis.  I just couldn’t find any meaningful way I could supplement Gerry’s coverage of the subject. Then I had the presence of mind and spirit to ask Holy Spirit for help.  What follows is what He shared with me.

                Many years ago (I don’t recall exactly how long) I taught some biblical concepts about time and eternity to a small group of students in our home.  Then about 20 years ago I updated and revised that teaching and placed it on my ministry website (leservices.org), titling it “Beyond the Far Shores of Time.”  It has proved through the years to be a very popular teaching; I have received many positive and constructive responses from people around the world who have read it on my website.  Holy Spirit told me this teaching would be a good supplemental teaching for Gerry Beauchemin’s Anchor Four.  The following is a somewhat revised, shortened version of “Beyond the Far Shores of Time.”

Let’s examine for a few moments the concepts of time and eternity—as taught by both modern science and the Bible.  They are both integral parts of the broader truth of God’s very own eternal LIFE within his sons and daughters.  I’ll attempt to teach these two concepts as somewhat separate from one another, but, of necessity, there is much overlapping of the two. When we examine the subject of time, we will also look at other time-related concepts that are finite, temporal, non-absolute, and relative.

                Only Holy Spirit, the true Author of the Bible and Source of all true knowledge and wisdom, can teach us in depth about time and eternity. And I encourage you to ask Him for assistance and enlightenment as you continue to read this teaching.  He can fill in the many gaps I’ve left out of this teaching because of my own limited understanding.  I freely admit there is much I still don’t comprehend.

There is much yet to be learned as Holy Spirit gives us illumination and enlightenment.  In a sense, there is much about time and eternity…that only time to come and—later beyond time—the eternal realm can clarify for us.  In considering time, we will also touch on such concepts as infinity, space, the universe, and that part of Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity pertinent to this teaching.  

                A concept we must grasp immediately at the outset is that time is an integral part of the entirety of all created phenomena (Hebrews 1: 2) consisting of past, present, and future—just as humans are created phenomena having youth, middle age, and old age. No, we cannot touch, smell, taste, see, or hear time with our five senses, but it is there, ever-present, always flowing out of the past, through the present and marching into the future.    

                Yes, time was created just like the rest of the entire creation; it had a beginning, it shall have an end.  It is a created entity among countless other entities which are part of the entire created universe.  Time is as much a “class” or “phylum” of God’s creation as, for example, rocks, elephants, trees, and water are classes of creation.  Before the creation of the universe, time did not exist; at the end of the eons of time it shall cease to be.  It will be swallowed up into eternity just as all death (the first death and the second death, which is the lake of fire:  Revelation 20: 14), will be swallowed up into God and cease to exist.

Time—composed of milliseconds, seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries, millenniums, ages, and eons—was created in the beginning and will be dissolved and cease to exist at some point in the future when it fades away and blends into eternity.  In a sense, it’s not that time will end and eternity begin.  No, time will simply be removed from the equation; it won’t even be remembered.  At the end of time, time will end, cease to be, and stop moving forward because it simply won’t exist anymore.

                This phenomenon we call time was created by God for humans to use.  Why?  I’m greatly oversimplifying, but it was created to aid fallen, sinful humans to accommodate ourselves to this material, mortal, and temporal plane of existence and to aid us in living out our days and years in preparation for a new, totally spiritual, non-material, glorified existence beyond time in a state of existence called eternity.  In eternity, everything and everyone will simply step outside of time into the eternal state of being which overarches and transcends time.

                You see, in a manner of speaking, we mortal humans are defined by time; it is a natural phenomenon imposed by God upon our mortal reality.  Time’s forward motion defines our mortal existence; it’s simply part of who we are as humans.  We will all pass from a physical, material existence into a glorious spiritual existence where time will no longer be necessary to define who we are; time serves only to aid us—to give us time, so to speak—to prepare for that new spiritual state of being.  Each of us has been allotted a certain amount of time to make such preparations.  Let us use our time wisely and responsibly in preparation for eternity and for ministry and service to God and others!

We are spiritual beings sent here to earth to have a temporary, finite, mortal human experience—not human beings sent here to have a spiritual experience!

                A proper understanding of time as a created phenomenon, having beginning and ending, is an absolute prerequisite to a proper understanding of eternity.  Because it is a created phenomenon, time can be studied to some extent, just as any other part of the universe created by God can be studied.  For example, we know by definition what time is: “A system for measuring duration.”  Or, it can be defined as: “A continuum in which events succeed one another, from past, through the present, to the future.” 

We know how to measure time: with chronometers ranging from incredibly precise atomic clocks to Mickey Mouse watches. We know how time functions by its effects in passing: maturity, decay, corrosion, erosion, deterioration, and the like.  Someone has humorously quipped that, “Time is the thing that keeps stuff from happening all at once!”  Someone else said it’s “the stuff that happens between paychecks.”  Finally, someone wisely has said of time:  “It can only be spent, not saved.”

                As previously mentioned, an entire body of learning discipline for the study of time has been established by Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.  For purposes of this teaching, we understand from Einstein’s theory that time and space are interdependent, inseparably related, and form a four-dimensional continuum (length, height, depth, and duration). That is to say, there is no space without time, no time without space.  One cannot travel through space without the passage of time; without the passage of time, there can be no traveling through space.

[Note:  So much more is being learned about the “qualities” of time and space in recent years since Einstein posed his theories, that what I have just written in the paragraph above may have to be reconsidered in the light of new astrophysical research.  For example, there is a theory presently being studied called “the Einstein-Rosen Podolsky Separability Phenomenon.”  It presents the view that under certain conditions, pairs of material particles, however far apart in  space and time, are somehow so sensitive to each other that an action performed on one of the particles anywhere, will instantaneously be reflected in its twin, anywhere else.  Instantaneously!  That’s “faster” than the velocity of light, previously considered the fastest thing in the universe of space and time.  As an example, this could (if proved true) amount to instant sending and receiving stations anywhere in the universe, without any passage of time.]

                However, sticking to what we presently know for certain about time and space—to  furnish only one quick example—that is why in his post-resurrection, spiritual body, Jesus was immediately able to transcend and traverse the space-time continuum with “speed” surpassing time.  Also, by Jesus’ power, space and time cohere, adhere, and consist (Colossians 1: 17).  Without his binding power, space and time would become non-existent.  He is not limited nor restricted in any manner by time and space.  He transcends space and time by virtue of the fact that He is God. Jesus is over and above all space and time because He is The Creator and Sustainer of all!  He is transcendent over all his vast visible and invisible creation, including the created phenomena of space and time.

We also understand from the Bible that both time and space (as we presently know them) will be swallowed up into eternity, subsumed, and changed into a higher and different state of being altogether.  All that is physical and material will be swallowed up into that which is wholly spiritual, because God—toward whom we are all bound on our life-journeys—is non-corporeal (unbodied)—pure  Spirit (John 4: 24).  He is Wholly Other from we material, physical, corporeal human beings who are presently limited by time and space. 

Yet, because He is God, He can “downsize” Himself to live within humans and be fully present within each of us.  The Greek word Immanuel in the Bible means God is fully present.  He was fully present in Jesus of Nazareth in the past and is now fully present in Jesus’ Church and in each believer in Jesus who makes up and is part of his Church.  Yes, it is true that God is present in all of his creation, but not in a pantheistic sense; He is present in the greater sense of his being fully present in those people everywhere and everywhen who comprise the Church of Jesus, the Body of Jesus. 

                In this regard, too, we must briefly consider whether or not time and space are finite or infinite.  If they are infinite, are they necessarily eternal?  By definition, space is “the expanse in which all material things are contained.”  Infinity is to say “that something lacks known or measurable limits and bounds”—not that something has no limits or boundaries. 

With my present understanding, I believe that space and time do have limits and boundaries (since they are part of creation), but they simply cannot be measured by presently known scientific and astronomical instruments.  However, I am open to changing my mind as additional information becomes known.  I believe space, time, and the material universe are created entities and are infinite, but only in the sense they cannot be measured by finite humans. They are not infinite in the sense that eternity is infinite or in the sense of being eternal as only God is.

                Now let’s consider the concept of eternity.  Please understand that the strictest definition of eternity is “a state of being ‘in’ God.”  We shall see that it is much more than that, but it is a state of being, first and foremost.  In other words, eternity is not a created phenomenon like time is.  In all candor, I believe the Bible teaches very little by way of defining or describing eternity. 

Why?  Because the Bible is essentially a book of time and for time, not for eternity.  It was written for us who are still time-beings, not yet totally eternal beings.  It was written to time- and space-limited humans, for humans, and does not contain exhaustive information about the state of being called eternity—simply because—until we reach eternity—our limited, finite minds could not even begin to grasp even the most elemental truths about infinity and eternity.

However, the Bible is clear that it is an “eternal book” and will be carried over into the eternal state when we shall continue to explore its “mysteries” in that state beyond time.  The Word of God—the Bible—will stand throughout eternity as God’s complete written revelation to humankind, always and ever to be “mined” for its vast, exhaustless treasures of God’s knowledge and wisdom!

Where is that state of being we call eternity to be found?   If we were to consider it an actual “place,” (it is not, but if it were) we will find eternity “beginning” beyond the far shores of time!”  It is an infinite sphere where God is at the absolute center and there is no circumference. 

We are presently creatures of time—journeying through time and space.  Only when we arrive at and fully enter that state of being called eternity… only when He who is Eternal becomes All in all in us…only when time ends and is swallowed up into eternity…only when eternity becomes an absolute reality to us…only when we are spiritually metamorphosized into our eternal milieu…only then will we who were formerly temporal and physical beings begin to comprehend eternity and matters of an eternal nature.  Everything written in time about eternity (including this teaching) is at best merely enlightened speculation based upon limited information.

I wrote that the Bible is relatively silent about the state of being called eternity.  That is not to say that human teachings and theology haven’t taught us a few concepts about eternity, but sadly, some of it over the past 2,000 years or so has come from human minds not necessarily sensitive to the mind of the Eternal One via Holy Spirit.  Praise God for the true teaching ministry of the Eternal Spirit!

                We read in the Bible that God is Eternal, or more literally, the Father of Eternity (Deuteronomy 33: 27, Isaiah 9: 6).  He is called the Father of Eternity in the sense that he is the originator and sustainer of eternity.   In short, eternity is part of God.  He is eternity.  Eternity is wholly “within” God.  In continuing to consider the eternal state, we must completely jettison any thinking that time has anything to do with eternity or is part of eternity. Time and eternity are two separate entities. They are mutually exclusive of one another in an absolute sense.

                Eternity is a state of absolute timelessness, NOT a state of unending time.  Eternity is neither the end of time nor “after” the end of time.  It is all at once and all “places” at once, where everything is simultaneously accessible.  Eternity is a state of being, resident in the very nature and person of God in which such concepts as past, present, future, before, after, minutes, hours, and years do not exist.  There are no endless ages in time in eternity!

                There is no “forever” in eternity.  Eternity is a state of absolute simultaneousness, not a state that goes on and on “forever” with the passing of “unending” time.  The created ages of time will end; they are alien concepts in eternity. Time and eternity have no relationship with one another just as up or down, for example, have no relationship with light or dark. The terms are mutually exclusive. Time is not part of eternity just as up is not part of light.  Eternity is NOT composed of endless segments of time or of unending ages that go on and on and on forever and forever and ever without end.  In eternity, it is always now…

                Just as something extra to think about, have you ever considered how “forever” as we commonly think of it as time without end…could have an “ever” tacked on to the end of forever?  How could there be a “forever” with an “ever” following it as in “forever and ever”?  I’m just asking.

                It may seem like I’m overemphasizing this point, but it is absolutely essential that you understand such differences between eternity and time before you can begin to comprehend what the Bible teaches, for example, about eternal LIFE or eternal punishment. Time is not part of eternity.  Eternity is not composed of unending segments of time.  Eternity is not time standing still.  It simply is not time in any sense that we understand time.  Eternity doesn’t go on and on, ad infinitum.   Before reading this teaching any further, you might want to read a companion teaching on my web site entitled Eternal LIFE.

Eternity doesn’t go anywhere or anywhen, nor does it do anything.  Eternity simply is.  It is as foolish to say that eternity goes on and on and on as to say, for example, that Texas goes on and on and on.  Texas simply is a state in which people exist.  So it is with eternity.

                Time is created.  It is extra-eternal in the sense we say something is extra-biblical. Time is a measurable, fixed, limited, created phenomena.  Eternity, in contrast, is part of the very measureless, non-fixed, limitless, boundless nature and person of God.  Eternity transcends beyond our comprehension anything having to do with time.  Eternity simply is, just as God simply is.  The expression, “It is that it is,” has unique reference to eternity just as “I am that I am” has unique reference to God.  Just as Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am,” (John 8: 58) it can be said of eternity, “Before time was, I am.”

                As just one example among many, if you get a wholesome grasp of these thoughts about eternity, you will be able to readily understand a matter which people have struggled with ever since God first revealed himself to humanity.  That matter goes something like this:  “God must be so busy with running the vast, complicated universe and answering more ‘important’ prayers than mine from billions of other people, that He can’t possibly find time for little old unimportant me and my prayers.”    C’mon now, admit that you’ve had thoughts like that from time to time.

                The answer to that is that God exists in a state of absolute simultaneousness, and He is able at any given time to give his full attention at all times to everyone and everything—including you!  Yes, at any given time, He can devote his full attention to you, while at the same time, devoting his full attention to everything else…and everyone else…everywhere else…and everywhen else.  There’s a one-page companion teaching on my web site entitled I Am My Daddy’s Favorite Child you might find interesting to read at this point.

                For my next point, let’s consider only briefly the definitions of such biblical words and terms as “forever,” “forever and ever,” “eternal,” everlasting,” and related expressions. In over 500 places in many modern translations of the Bible where we find such terms in the English language as the four just mentioned, they have, with very few exceptions, been incorrectly translated from the original Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic languages in which the Bible was written. 

“Forever” can most often be translated as “age-lasting” or “continuing for the ages of time.”  “Forever and ever” and “everlasting” should be translated as “for the age(s) of the ages” or “enduring for the ages of time.”  No such biblical words or expressions are about segments of time that go on and on and on without end.  I am simply saying that these words are all temporal words expressed in temporal languages—fallen languages of a fallen race of beings, languages that are inadequate to wholly express and define that which is eternal. They are not words having to do with eternity; they are only about time.

                In the original languages, the biblical emphasis on such words seems to be upon the quality, purpose, and “character” of such words, rather than upon an unending duration.  In other words, eternal LIFE or eternal fire means the nature, quality, or purpose of the LIFE or fire, rather than their length or duration. 

                Eternal LIFE is the self-existent, uncreated, incorruptible, indestructible, undiminishable,  imperishable, inexhaustible, measureless, limitless, boundless, abundant LIFE God permanently implants in the spirits of people when they become believers in Jesus.  It is a LIFE, the seed of which we now possess and which will come to full fruition in the eternal realm, after the farthest ages of time have ceased to exist. 

In summary, it can readily be seen that both time and eternity are concepts beyond total comprehension by fallen and limited human beings.  Even under the pure teaching ministry of Holy Spirit, our “darkened” minds and understanding are too limited to fully grasp their meanings.

Nevertheless, even a dim understanding of such concepts will help change our imaginings and preconceived notions of space, time, the universe, God’s nature and personality, God’s “size,” God’s inherent eternality, and our own “future” eternality.   God is cultivating within his people an eternal character and nature, no longer rigidly bound to and regulated by time, by clocks, by seasons, by cycles.  The thoughts of God’s people are becoming boundless and eternal, no longer limited, controlled, and motivated entirely by memories of the past, by present events, or by dim hopes for an endless, nebulous future in the “sweet bye and bye.”

                God’s people are becoming age-less and time-less, are being “caught up” to God and his throne, are becoming truly and genuinely eternal beings in many ways. The fledgling eternal spirits of God’s people are growing up into the limitless expanses of God’s own eternal, spiritual nature.  His people are becoming new eternal creations, no longer limited by the restrictions of the space-time continuum and by our physicality and materiality. 

                We have come to understand the reality—as I stated earlier—that we are not temporal human beings having a brief spiritual experience; no, we are eternal spiritual beings having a temporary human experience!  We are seeing with our inner “eyes of faith,” the reality of a state of being called eternity—resident in the very nature and person of God—and our hearts strain and leap upward toward that “place” in God that awaits us beyond the end of the eons of time.  

I hope this brief teaching about the concepts of time and eternity help you more fully appreciate the wonder-full, rich, abundant, eternal LIFE God has implanted within you through the eternal sacrifice and total and complete salvation God has given you through God the Son, Jesus!  He implanted that LIFE in you at the time you became an authentic believer in Jesus, and it will continue to “grow” within you throughout all the eons of time—and then beyond time into the eternal state!  Thank God for such eternal LIFE and salvation both now and beyond the far shores of time!

“Now may God, the source and fountain of all hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you place your hope in Him.  And may the inner power of Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his superabundant goodness until you radiate with hope!”  (Romans 15: 13, paraphrased)

NOTE:  Many more of my teachings and writings may be found on our ministry website, leservices.org    and my books may be found at billsbooks.org

Bill Boylan

Life Enrichment Services, Inc

leservices38@yahoo.com

Revised and Updated October 2020