Who is the "son of perdition"?
Who is the “son of perdition”? Where is this name found int he Bible?
In fact, there are two people to which the phrase “son of perdition” is applied. In context, John 17:12 is referring to Judas Iscariot, the disciple of Jesus that betrayed Him. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 is referring to the “man of lawlessness” i.e. the Antichrist, who will appear before Christ’s return.
How can you know these people are what the Bible is talking about?
Biblical interpretation relies on these tenets: 1) The Bible is God's Word and 100% true; 2) context determines meaning - we interpret literal things literally and figurative things figuratively; 3) Scripture interprets Scripture - when we have a question about what the Bible says we go to other parts of the Bible to explain it.
The context of the passages that mention "son of perdition" are clearly talking about Judas in John 17:12 and the anti-Christ in 2 Thessalonians 2:3.
Didn’t Saul of Tarsus persecute Christians? Maybe he’s the “son of perdition”?
True. Paul (otherwise known as “Saul” of Tarsus) did persecute believers at first. But Jesus called him to faith and made him a great evangelist for the gospel. He is no "son of perdition". He is a preacher of truth. He died with the peace of Jesus and went to heaven.
Judas is a son of perdition because he ultimately rejected Jesus and took his own life. He is, regrettably, in hell. The anti-Christ is a son of perdition because he will be punished by Jesus on the Last Day. We get these facts from the context of the Bible passages, what the Bible clearly says.
Want to learn more about names in the Bible and how to interpret it? Visit www.tellnetwork.org. After taking several self-learning Bible classes you can be enrolled in a live-instructor Bible class. There you will continue learning with a trained instructor, asking more questions and growing in faith!
Do you have a hero in your life?
A hero is a person you admire for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. Do you have one in your life? For some it’s an amazing athlete. For others it’s a friend, co-worker or family member. Or maybe it’s a war hero, emergency responder, doctor or medical provider who saves lives.
We should be thankful for our everyday heroes. They continue to work tirelessly to take care of us especially in time of crisis. But what about the rest of us? Maybe you cannot go to work. Or you’ve lost your job. Gone through a divorce or been separated from others. What’s your place and purpose? Sometimes life doesn’t seem very heroic. It can be difficult to find a hero in our time of need.
Jesus once said to his followers:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. . . . Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these.” (John 14:1-2)
If ever there was a hero, it was Jesus! He worked tirelessly to take care of others—feeding the hungry, healing the sick.
But he did more than relieve the temporary troubles of people. He went above and beyond when he went to the cross. His death and resurrection supply the entire world with eternal protection from all of sin’s terrible consequences. He gives forgiveness, life, and eternal salvation to all who trust in him.
What does this mean for us? Jesus does even more than being our best hero. He equips you and me - his followers - to be his heroes in this world. He gives your life purpose.
You are essential.
By his powerful Word, Jesus says you do great things! You can feed souls hungering for hope. You can forgive sinners hurting from guilt. You can comfort souls scared of death.
Even during a crisis, you can do all these heroic things from your own home. Whether you are doing these things for those living with you, or for those you reach out to online or on the phone. What a privilege it is to be a hero!
Do you know someone who can use this message? Be a hero. Share the news of Jesus with them. You can participate in the essential work of leading others to the truth. Truth brings peace.
Want to learn more about our hero Jesus and how he equips you to be a hero for others? www.tellnetwork.org. Click on “start courses now” and discover a world of free Bible-learning resources including class with a live Bible instructor.
When will COVID-19 end?
Good question! As of time of this writing the outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic is impossible to predict. Not even the world’s top scientists and doctors know. Although some claim to have an idea about how it could be stopped.
Starting in December 2019, in the region of Wuhan, China, a new (“novel”) coronavirus began appearing in human beings. It has been named “COVID-19” (“COronaVIrus Disease of 2019.” Due to its newness – experts were unsure how it spread and whether or not people can build immunity to COVID-19. To our knowledge, no one had COVID-19 until 2019.
Although COVID-19 is new, it is not the first pandemic. HIV/AIDS, influenza, cholera and the Black Death each saw anywhere between 1 to 100 million people or more die during their peak.
As a person of faith we need to find answers to the questions that really matter. The questions we do have answers to. Below is a key question and facts from the Bible. Hold onto them as you wait this pandemic out:
How does a person of faith face a pandemic like COVID-19?
1. Admit we are less in-control than we thought.
We humans like to think we have a lot of this world figured out. And to be honest, it’s not surprising we think that way. We’ve put astronauts on the moon. We’ve discovered vaccines. We’ve figured out complex problems of science, society and nature.
But consider this: we still know very little about how to protect ourselves from new viruses. When we figure this one out, there will be another. When we establish peace after war, we’ll find another way to start fighting.
What causes our world to be out-of-control? The Bible explains that our out-of-control world is a result of sin. After the first man and woman rebelled against God, God said that there would be consequences:
17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:17-19)
The Apostle Paul explains the consequence of sin simply: “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 3:23a)
The Bible explains that our out-of-control world is a result of sin.
2. Trust God your Creator & Sustainer
After admitting we’re not in control and that the cause of death (of any sort) starts with a broken relationship with God, the next question is who is in control?
God once spoke to a man named Job who was going through a life-changing crisis that you and I may never endure. God reminded him that He was in control:
4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
6 On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
7 while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy? (Job 38:4-7)
Apply God’s word to our current situation. When all things seem out-of-control remember that God was there long before COVID-19. He created our world. He knows it inside and out like a master house-builder knows a home. God knows your body and organs - even the virus - better than any doctor or expert. He is your Creator.
God is not the sort of Creator who builds something and leaves it alone. He continues to sustain us. Jesus taught us not to worry so much about the future. That includes the fear of the unknown like we’re going through today.
God knows your body and organs - even the virus - better than any doctor or expert. He is your Creator.
26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?...33 But seek first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:26-7, 33-34)
Jesus teaches us to trust God to sustain us. Trust him to give us our daily food, drink and necessary items for everyday life. Trust him with your health. Pray to him to meet your needs spiritually and physically. (If you want an example of how to pray see how Jesus taught his disciples to pray in Matthew 6:9-13).
3. Put your hope in God your Savior
Still we have the problem of suffering, pandemics, sickness, natural disasters and death. Can’t God control these? Or does he not care? The answer to this question is found in the work and person of Jesus.
After we rebelled against God, God was right and just to make a consequence for sin. The earth was cursed because of our rebellion. It would no longer be the utopia God intended for us to live in community with him.
But instead of wiping us off the face of the earth forever, God made a way. From the very first day of our rebellion, God promised to send a Savior (Genesis 3:15). Over the years God made it clearer and clearer that this Savior would be sent by him, would heal the nations, bring hope to people and die for the sins of the world. (See Isaiah 53).
But instead of wiping us off the face of the earth forever, God made a way.
God’s greatest work was to not stop all immediate suffering, but to stop suffering forever. How? By taking on the worst suffering of all: taking the judgment that humans deserved on himself. He lived a perfect life and died an innocent death in our place.
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
That’s great news! When we go through suffering it’s not because God doesn’t love us. Rather, it’s because God redeemed us for a better life. Jesus doesn’t want us to languish away forever in a sinful world. He died to take away our sins and rose again so when we die we will live with him forever. Regardless of the pandemic, sickness and suffering we endure in this world.
God’s greatest work was to not stop suffering immediately, but to stop suffering forever.
Once when Jesus’ disciple John was enduring great suffering and persecution, God sent him a vision of eternal life in heaven. You and I believers will do well to keep our eyes on this scene as we go through COVID-19 or any other suffering:
“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)
Do you see the end of COVID-19? Maybe not clearly right now. But God your Creator, Sustainer and Savior does. Be vigilant in prayer Be a responsible neighbor and good steward of your own health. But most importantly trust that God has made clear to you the final plan for your life: life forever with him in heaven.
Want to learn more about God’s promises for you during a pandemic? Visit www.tellnetwork.org. After taking several self-learning Bible classes you can be enrolled in a live-instructor Bible class. There you will continue learning with a trained instructor, asking more questions and growing in faith!
There are so many translations of the Bible. Which one should I read?
The Bible was originally written in ancient Hebrew and Greek. So unless you can read and comprehend the original languages, you will do well to find a solid and faithful translation in your language.
In English, the King James Version (KJV) is a widely trusted translation. The KJV is an older translation, so its language feels antiquated and possibly confusing for the modern English reader. The New International Version (NIV), English Standard Version (ESV) or Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) are faithful translations of the original language and easier to read. Translations like The Message (MSG) are modern summaries of the Bible that seek to make the thoughts of the author clear in modern language but don’t rigidly follow the grammar and syntax of the original language.
In general, a good translation is both faithful to the original language and its meaning. It is also understandable to the modern reader.
Want to learn more about the Bible? Visit www.tellnetwork.org. After taking several self-learning Bible classes you can be enrolled in a live-instructor Bible class. There you will continue learning with a trained instructor, asking more questions and growing in faith!
How can I find peace and purpose?
Today people in some parts of our world enjoy more wealth, information and physical pleasures than any other time in world history. Sadly people in other parts of our world lack clean water, technology and necessary medical care.
Yet regardless of class, wealth or poverty, there’s a common problem that no one is immune to. Not only are all people of every class in danger of a world-wide health pandemic. Every person of every class is also in danger of losing the peace of God and his purpose for their life.
In dark seasons both rich and poor are tempted to turn to the world to regain peace and purpose. They look for worldly solutions. Some of the world’s solutions are drugs, medication abuse, alcohol and screen addiction to name a few.
But these solutions are really no solution at all. Although they seem to help in the moment, they often add to the problem. Paralyzed by the bad news coming across our screens daily, fearful of being hurt, we hurt ourselves and others all the more.
There is good news though: the all-powerful, eternal and almighty God entered our messed-up world to restore us completely. Though He was eternally glorious and honored in heaven as God’s son, Jesus became a lowly human being in order to save you from shame.
His miraculous healings and radical table fellowship with sinners restored dignity and honor to marginalized people. Jesus was so full of divine honor that those who touched him became cleansed, forgiven and accepted. He lived the life of honor and purpose that God always wanted from you and me.
So when Jesus died on the cross your shame and sin - no matter where you’re from, what you’ve done or haven’t done - was put on the shameless Son of God. And the honor of the Son of God was given to you!
The life of Jesus didn’t end at the cross though. He rose from the dead, defeating death forever.
On the same day Jesus rose from the dead he appeared to his disciples, who were in shock about what and who they were seeing: the risen Jesus in his very own human body. In Luke 24 it says:
36 While they (Jesus’ disciples) were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.
First, Jesus’ resurrection brings God’s peace to a broken world. “Peace be with you” he says to a room full of people who were sheltering at home out of fear of their physical enemies.
Still the disciples were “startled and frightened” - not believing their eyes. Jesus addresses their doubts: “Why are you troubled and why do doubts arise in your mind?” Then Jesus puts out his hands and feet. They touch and feel. He’s not an illusion. He’s really physically risen from the dead!
As a child I was told at the table not to stare at someone when they’re eating. But you have to believe these disciples were staring when Jesus ate a piece of fish in their presence. Ghosts don’t eat. Humans do. And this same human with warm blood and scars and scent and sound and teeth - this same human whose blood ran cold and whose heart stopped just three days - was smiling, breathing and eating supper with them!
From this moment on Jesus’ disciples weren’t perfect. It took them awhile to believe what their eyes, ears and senses couldn’t deny: Jesus is physically alive.
Before his resurrection they were afraid. But now because of Jesus’ physical reassurance the fear melted. Confidence and hope emerged within them. They had no one to fear outside those doors. Jesus had restored God’s honor, his peace and protection in their life because He loved all who put their trust in him will be raised again and live forever too.
Today the same Jesus is alive and working in our world with his Holy Spirit to bring you forgiveness, honor and protection. God’s word the Bible teaches:
“We know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.” (2 Corinthians 4:14)
Did you hear that? We have hope for the future - no matter what it holds!
All of Jesus’ disciples who encountered the physically risen Jesus went marching to their deaths with songs and joy - not because they gave up on the world, but because they had this living hope that Jesus was alive, present and made a bright future for them.
Believers today will face dark times but not with sadness. Like the disciples our sadness is turned to joy and our doubt is changed to hope. Our future is bright.
But our present situation is bright too. The risen Jesus restores God’s honor, righteousness and power to us right now. So let’s live that way until Jesus calls us to be with him forever in heaven. Honoring God and loving our neighbor with our physical life.
Remember, Jesus had a physical body. He was raised with a perfect physical body. He cared for those skeptics in the room who couldn’t believe their eyes by letting them touch, feel, see and stare. He loved those who struggled with unbelief by eating in front of them.
Jesus cares about the physical with you too. As an honored and forgiven child of God he cares what you do with your body. Don’t just run to the world’s empty solutions - hurting your body with temporary fixes.
Rather love your body like Jesus does. He rose again because the physical matters. One day you too will have a perfect, holy body like his. But right now is the time to do what the Apostle Paul instructed believers to do: “We are to use our bodies for the Lord who is in charge of our bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:13)
The risen Jesus gives us incredible peace about the future and the present. The risen Jesus gives us practical ways to regain our purpose for living. He died for and rose again for our full self - body, mind and spirit. So let’s worship him with our whole self as well.
Want to learn more about finding peace and purpose? Visit www.tellnetwork.org. After taking several self-learning Bible classes you can be enrolled in a live-instructor Bible class. There you will continue learning with a trained instructor, asking more questions and growing in faith!
Does the Bible really say Jesus is cursed?
Someone once asked their pastor, “Why does the Bible say Jesus is cursed?” Then they pointed out a few passages from the New Testament:
“The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross.” (Acts 5:30)
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.’” (Galatians 3:13)
The first quote from Acts 5 is by Jesus’ disciple Peter. After Jesus died, rose and ascended into heaven Peter and the other disciples were preaching the gospel when the religious authorities arrested them for doing so. They threw them in prison. Then Peter and others stood on trial for preaching the gospel of Jesus. In his defense Peter spoke about what had happened just a few months before: the same religious authorities arrested and killed Jesus by Roman crucifixion: “(Jesus) whom you killed by hanging him on a cross.” (Acts 5:30)
The second quote is from Galatians 3 where the Apostle Paul says that those who rely on keeping the law are under God’s curse. But those who put their faith in Jesus are freed from God’s curse:
For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” [quote from Deuteronomy 27:26] Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” [quote from Habakuk 2:4] The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” [quote from Leviticus 18:5] Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” [quote from Deuteronomy 21:23] He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. (Galatians 3:10-14)
In other words, if you think you can be right with God, or become holy, by keeping God’s law, you will always fall short of God’s holiness. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)
Therefore we sinners deserve God's wrath. We deserve to die eternally. We were under God's curse: "The soul who sins is the one who will die." (Ezekiel 18:20)
This is terrible news for us sinners. But God made a promise that he would make payment for our sin and correct our problem. Hundreds of years before Jesus lived the prophet Isaiah wrote about a future person and event that would take away our sins. He said there would be a servant who would come and save us by giving his own life for us:
“But he (the suffering servant) was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
The good news (literally "the Gospel") is that God made himself the suffering servant! God entered our world, lived a perfect life in our place and although he was holy - never sinning, always keeping the law - Jesus became cursed for us. He died on a cross. People looked at the ugly sight and said, “Cursed!”
Even Jesus said when suffering the curse of God on the cross: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46)
But at the same time we see the ugly curse of sin on Jesus, we see the amazing love of Jesus: "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Jesus himself said: “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
The Apostle Paul explains, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:23-24)
So does the Bible say that Jesus was cursed? Yes! He very clearly was cursed in our place...because he loves us!
God’s forgiveness is free and full to all who put their faith in Jesus: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
For those who believe we do not have to worry about God’s anger against our sin. Jesus suffered it! Instead we will want to live by faith: believing we’re forgiven and loved by God, turning away from sin that destroys our faith, and living a holy life because we’re loved.
But is Jesus still under God’s curse today?
Three days after he died under God’s curse, Jesus rose again from the dead. (Matthew 28, Mark 16, John 20, Luke 24, 1 Corinthians 15) The Bible says that now God has glorified his Son, Jesus Christ. Although he once was under God’s curse to take away our sin, God has now glorified Jesus above all things.
In fact that’s what Peter says to the religious leaders right after he tells them they hung Jesus on a cross: “The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins.” (Acts 5:30-31)
The Apostle Paul writes:
"(Jesus) who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature b of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:6-11)
Was Jesus cursed? Yes. He showed his greatest love for us by putting himself under God’s curse instead of us.
Is Jesus glorified today? Yes. God has raised him from the dead - no longer cursed - but glorified by God and ruling over all things for the good of those who believe in him.
Praise be to Lamb of God who rules over our lives with his abundant love!
Want to learn more about Jesus? Visit www.tellnetwork.org. After taking several self-learning Bible classes you can be enrolled in a live-instructor Bible class. There you will continue learning with a trained instructor, asking more questions and growing in faith!
What is sin?
The apostle John wrote: "Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness." ( I John 3:4) The apostle directs us to the law of God, not man-made rules and traditions, and teaches that whoever fails to do what God commands or does what God forbids is guilty of sin.
But what does God say in his law? What does he command? What does he forbid? We might look at a list such as: honor your father and mother, do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony … the Bible, of course, does this in the 10 Commandments.
Jesus, however, summed up God’s law this way: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart … and … love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37) Jesus’ reminder that God demands love reminds us that God’s law deals not just with outward actions like murder, adultery or stealing, but also condemns as sinful matters of the heart like hatred, lust and greed.
If even impure desires and unclean thoughts are sinful in God’s eyes, it’s no wonder that the apostle Paul heaps up all people on one big pile and says: “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:22,23) Paul means that there is no one who has ever achieved the perfection God demands inside and out, and so no one can expect God on the day he judges all people to say: “Way to go, you did everything I required you to do and you did it perfectly.” Instead, we can only expect to hear God say: “Depart from me you who are cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41) For the Bible says, “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23)
So far the news about sin is only bad. But there is good news for sinners. The good news is that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” (I Timothy 1:15) God knew we couldn’t save ourselves by living a sinless life—so he sent his Son to do that for us and credits his obedience to us. (Romans 5:19) And because God in his love didn’t want us die eternally in hell for our sins, he sent Jesus to die for us on the cross and suffer the punishment for sin we deserved. When God raised Jesus from the dead, he proclaimed that his work was complete and our sins were forgiven.
What wonderful news for people who know their sins and the punishment they deserve for their sins to have the Bible point us to Jesus and hear the Bible say: “Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life!” (John 3:16)
Does God always answer my prayers?
In grappling with this fair question, we first need to remember that prayer is a privilege. Because of our sin God has every right not to listen to a single word we speak to him. However, because his Son, Jesus Christ, died for us and rose again, God forgives our sins. He has made us his children by faith in Jesus, and has given us the privilege of speaking to him in prayer. Through Jesus we may come to God the Father “with freedom and confidence.” (Ephesians 3:12) Our Father in heaven promises to hear and answer our prayers. Jesus says, “Ask, and it will be given to you.” (Matthew 7:7) God’s ears are always attentive to our prayers. He is listening, and answering.
So why does it seem like God does not answer (at least sometimes). Since he promises to answer all our prayers—and he keeps all his promises—the problem might be with us. We need to evaluate ourselves.
Are we praying in faith? We might be approaching God on the basis of our goodness or the deeds we think will lead him to listen. Prayers not offered by faith in Jesus Christ are not answered.
Are we praying with improper motives? If we pray so that we might get something to merely spend on our selfish pleasures, the Lord will not answer. The Bible teaches, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives.” (James 4:3)
Are we praying according to his will? If our requests are contrary to his will expressed in the Bible, then we will not receive an answer. So with every prayer, we have in mind the petition in the Lord’s Prayer, “Your will be done.”
When we pray with faith and humble ourselves to ask God’s will be done, we’re telling God, “God, you know my wants and needs better than me. Answer my prayer how best you will, and I will accept it with joy.” Here are four answers God has given to prayer as described in the Bible:
- Yes. (See Exodus 32:7-14)
- No. (See 2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
- Wait. (See Malachi 4:1-6)
- Here is something better. (Job 42:10-13)
If we are following what God tells us in the Bible, yet our prayers seem like they are not being answered, then what should we think? We humble ourselves before God with the confidence that he still is listening and will answer. When he does not seem to answer, he still is—probably in ways that we do not yet realize. He is our loving Father, who will bless us in the ways he knows are best. We have that guarantee because he already gave his Son to claim us as his very own. How greatly our heavenly Father loves us to call us his children and give us the privilege to speak to him in prayer!
What is heaven?
Imagine this: a father holding his newborn child. His five-year-old son wonders why his Father’s smile is so large.
Can a father ever fully explain? Can a young son grasp the awe that grabs the heart of a dad when a new life comes into the world?
The reality of heaven may be more than human minds can fully comprehend. Yet we ask, “What is heaven?” God does give us some answers.
What is heaven?
Jesus once told his friends, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going . . . to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
What is heaven?
The Apostle Peter told his friends, “In keeping with [God’s] promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.”
What is heaven?
The Apostle John writes, “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘. . . [God] will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new’!”
What is heaven? God gives us answers. Heaven is a real destination, a place. Heaven is a place of moral perfection, available to sinful humans only through Jesus’ saving work. Heaven is place of perfect joy, without a single tear ever again.
But what is heaven? What exactly will it look like? Why can’t I see it now?
Questions. Good questions. Questions not so different from the sincere question of a son to the proud father of a new child.
“Why are you so happy, Dad?”
The father’s answer may not include every detail, but he will emphasize the point that matters most. He will answer in a way the son can understand. “Son, having a baby is like having the biggest, hugest chocolate birthday cake you could ever imagine.”
The five-year-old gets a smile on his face. He understands.
What is heaven?
The Father replies, “Heaven is a place of perfect joy—you will never be sad again.” We can understand that, and with a huge smile on our face.
How did we get the Bible?
Very frankly, that question is the topic of lengthy books and scholarly study. After all, it’s a huge question! How do we know that we have what God originally gave? We want – and need – to know! Here’s a very brief explanation.
God gave the Old Testament in the Hebrew language, along with a bit of Aramaic (a cousin language to Hebrew). The Jews then took the originals and made copies. As they did, they had to be absolutely precise. The scribe was allowed to correct one error. If he were to make more than one error (in the whole book!) he had to throw away the copy, and start over. The copying was painstaking, careful work. Because of that, our copies of the Hebrew Old Testament are extremely consistent, with hardly any questions about the text at all.
God gave the New Testament in Greek, the common world language of that time. Because Christianity spread into Europe, North Africa, Turkey, etc., many copies had to be made. So, for example, one person would dictate the text, while several people made copies. The result is that we have hundreds and hundreds of copies of the New Testament, coming from those several different regions of the world. By comparing all the manuscripts, we are able to be positively sure of almost every single word in the Greek New Testament. In less than 1/10 of 1% of the text are there any questions at all as to what the text ought to read, and in each of those cases, no truth of the Bible is impacted.
One example. Matthew 1:18 begins, “This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: …” But, quite a few Greek texts read, “the birth of Christ Jesus” instead of “the birth of Jesus Christ.” Some others read, “the birth of Christ,” and there’s even two which read “the birth of Jesus.” We’re not sure what the text ought to read. Because it’s God’s Word, we take every single word seriously
Yet we also realize that whether the text reads, “the birth of Jesus Christ” or “the birth of Christ Jesus” etc., there is no question whatsoever as to the point God is communicating.
So can you be sure that we have the Bible, the pure Word of God? The answer is “yes.” And we thank God for that, for He’s promised that even if the mountains were to pass away, yet His Word will never pass away (Matthew 24:35, 1 Peter 1:24-25)! God has preserved it! And He will!