The Final Chapter

The devil, who deceived [the nations], was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Revelation 20:10

Two researchers in the University of California, San Diego’s psychology department wanted to know: Do people enjoy reading fiction more or less if they know how the story ends? That is, does it help to read the last chapter before starting the newest crime fiction novel? As it turns out, the subjects in the study reported enjoying the story more when they knew up front how the story would end.

That’s good news for Bible readers! We have been given a lengthy story to read with lots of plot twists and surprises along the way. It’s the story of good versus evil and we want to know who wins in the end (1 John 3:8; 5:19). Fortunately, the final chapters—Revelation 19-22—could not be more clear. Christ returns to earth with the armies of heaven and defeats Satan and his legions. He then rules the earth for 1,000 years, banishes Satan forever, and ushers us into everlasting peace and righteousness in the New Jerusalem.

Go ahead—read those four final chapters! They will shine the light of hopeful certainty when the days are dark.

Let’s keep our chins up and our knees down—we’re on the victory side! Alan Redpath

A Worldly Heart

2 Peter 2:9-18

God warns us against misguided desires, because sinful passions can lead to emptiness, suffering, disappointment, pain, and even death. Wise believers let the Father direct their yearnings, and then they adjust their mindset accordingly.

Impure desires have been part of the “flesh” nature since the fall of man, and they can be hard to recognize in ourselves. Instead of obvious things like theft, drugs, or immorality, they often involve more subtle attitudes and behaviors, like hoping for a rival’s downfall, despising authority (2 Pet. 2:10), obsessing about wealth (1 Tim. 6:9), or even speaking arrogant and vain words (2 Pet. 2:18). Since worldly passions can cause great damage, believers are to deny them (Titus 2:11-12). But we can’t overcome these desires on our own. Submitting to God’s Spirit is the only way to live righteously.

The Lord knows what we really desire—and more importantly, what we need—even when our cloudy judgment leads us astray. And He understands honest mistakes. When a believer misinterprets the Spirit’s guidance or receives bad advice from a friend, God looks at the heart. He may allow the consequences of a poor choice to play out, but He won’t shame His children for an honest error. Scripture teaches that He can turn a bad situation into something good (Rom. 8:28).

God can save us from worldly desires, but we must be willing to commit ourselves to Him and trust that His response is the best thing for us. When we put our life entirely in the Father’s hands, we can claim the wonderful promises He has for us and then rest in His grace.

Heaven’s Commonwealth

“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20)

The translators of the King James Bible used the English word “conversation” in 18 passages, among which are five different Greek terms. Most of the words would be understood by our modern idea “manner of life” or behavior. However, in today’s verse, the word is politeuoma, derived from another Greek word, polites. Our English word “politics” comes from that, especially in the sense of citizenship as it relates to governmental oversight.

The apostle Paul is the only New Testament writer to use the “politics” word, and he does so only two other times. On one occasion, “all Jerusalem was in an uproar” (Acts 21:31) over Paul’s supposed violation of the Temple. After giving testimony of his conversion and subsequent ministry to the unruly crowd, Paul said, “Men and brethren, I have lived [politeuomai] in all good conscience before God until this day” (Acts 23:1), simply and boldy declaring that he now lived as a citizen of heaven.

Earlier in his epistle to the Philippian church, Paul had challenged them, “Let your conversation [politeuoma] be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27). Paul’s challenge is just as clear to us: Live and think like our citizenship is in heaven.

Heaven’s rule may be best understood by our English word “commonwealth,” a political community founded for the common good. We are “joint-heirs” with Christ (Romans 8:17), and we should look “for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). HMM III

God Was Forced Out

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. —Matthew 16:24

Before the Lord God made man upon the earth He first prepared for him a world of useful and pleasant things for his sustenance and delight. In the Genesis account of the creation these are called simply “things.” They were made for man’s use, but they were meant always to be external to the man and subservient to him. In the deep heart of the man was a shrine where none but God was worthy to come. Within him was God; without, a thousand gifts which God had showered upon him….

Our woes began when God was forced out of His central shrine and things were allowed to enter. Within the human heart things have taken over. Men have now by nature no peace within their hearts, for God is crowned there no longer, but there in the moral dusk stubborn and aggressive usurpers fight among themselves for first place on the throne….

The roots of our hearts have grown down into things, and we dare not pull up one rootlet lest we die. Things have become necessary to us, a development never originally intended. God’s gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstrous substitution.

Lord, deliver me from this dependence on material things. If You need to completely remove some things from me, help me to be willing to give them up in complete submission to You. Amen.

Faith and Prayer, Hand In Glove

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16)

In Hebrews we find a long list of benefits which faith brings to its possessor: justification, deliverance, fruitfulness, endurance, victory over enemies, courage, strength and even resurrection from the dead.

Then, everything that is attributed thus to faith might with equal truth be attributed to prayer; for faith and true prayer are like two sides of the same coin—they are inseparable!

Men may, and often do, pray without faith (though this is not true prayer), but it is not thinkable that men should have faith and not pray.

Whatever God can do faith can do, and whatever faith can do prayer can do when it is offered in faith.

It should not be considered strange, then, that an invitation to prayer is an invitation to omnipotence, for prayer engages the Omnipresent God and brings Him into our human affairs.

According to the Bible, we have because we ask or we have not because we ask not. It does not take much wisdom to discover our next move. Is it not to pray and pray again and again until the answer comes? Let us not fail the world and disappoint God by failing to pray!

A true believer, called by grace

A true believer, called by grace and washed in the precious blood of Jesus, thou hast tasted of better drink than the river of this world’s pleasure can give thee; thou hast had fellowship with Christ; thou hast obtained the joy of seeing Jesus, and leaning thine head upon His bosom. Do the trifles, the songs, the honors, the merriment of this earth content thee after that? If thou art wandering after the waters of Egypt, oh, return quickly to the one living fountain: the waters of Sihor may be sweet to the Egyptians, but they will prove only bitterness to thee. What hast thou to do with them? Jesus asks thee this question—what wilt thou answer Him?