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Latest revision as of 23:04, 13 August 2019

Diversity of Destinies 7

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. (Psalms 51:12)

To those who truly have known the Lord, His rebuke and the removal of His Presence are an agony. They know when they have lost their joy and when it has been restored. They may have to walk faithfully by the Scriptures in dryness of soul for many years before their assurance is returned to them.

Fundamentalism is strong when it reminds us that the Scriptures are holy and eternally unchanging. Fundamentalism is weak when it teaches us to substitute a profession of belief in the text for a living experience with God.

The error of believing we already possess an experience, such as being a new creation in Christ, because of a verse we read, can produce a "salvation" void of the Lord's rich Presence. The Scriptures lead us to the living Jesus. Eternal life is in Him, not in the text of the Bible.

Sometimes, after prayer, we believe we are to stand by faith on a passage, "by whose stripes you were healed, for example. Such "claiming" of a promise is a necessary part of the good fight of faith.

The spiritual dryness of the returning backslider is not to be confused with the dry deserts through which the Lord brings His Bride as He perfects her love, faith, and patience. We have to learn to walk in the cloud of blessing by day and according to the directions of the fire of His written Word by night.

Isn't it possible that our earthly experiences can teach us what we may expect in the spirit realm if we have not responded to all the light given us?

Dr. Ritchie, in his inspiring book, Return from Tomorrow (Waco, Texas: Chosen Books, 1978), tells of the fate of suicides. Though in spiritual form they are required to dwell in the presence of people whom they have harmed by the sin of taking their own lives. Their repeated cries of remorse cannot be heard by their loved ones. This may be the least part of their "hell," their "stripes."

In no manner do we intend to suggest that every time we become ill, or a loved one becomes ill, or it becomes difficult for us to pray or to study the Word of God, that we have been disobedient to God. On many occasions these are the normal tribulations every Christian experiences. Such testings are for our strengthening.

Afflictions teach us to pray and to stop our sinning (James 5:13; I Peter 4:1). After we have suffered sufficiently God will make us perfect, establish us, strengthen us, settle us (I Peter 5:10).

It is true also that the sinning, disobedient Christian often receives in this present life the consequences of his disobedience. The Scripture suggests that his chastening will continue in the spirit realm when he passes from this world to the next unless he repents thoroughly.

Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. (I Timothy 5:24)

There is no sin in the Kingdom of God. In the Day of Christ, men will receive the bad they have practiced (II Corinthians 5:10).

It appears that many believers die with serious problems in their behavior unresolved. What passage of Scripture states their correction will not continue after they die? The implication of Jesus' teaching is that they will continue to be chastened— especially in the Day of Christ.

We Christians have many traditions concerning what happens to us when we die, and concerning the nature of Heaven, that are based in part on the visions of the saints. The writer does not discredit these visions but regards them as inspiring.

To be continued. Diversity of Destinies 8