Promises and Secrets

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A website for those not afraid to examine their beliefs, compare them to the real world, and make sure they fit.



Signs and Warnings

VIEWPOINT



Most of the warnings we see have affected us, someone we know, or someone we have heard or read about, so we pay attention and avoid the consequences that we know will happen. What about those warnings that have never affected anyone we know or have heard about?

FACT



We live in a time in which we are surrounded by warnings of danger.


BLUE VIEWPOINT



No, this is not a list of warnings from the Bible, you have likely already read about them in the rest of this site.

This is just a little food for thought. You know, just something to think about over your morning orange juice or coffee.

For those of you lucky enough to live near the coast, when you take a drive to the water sometimes you see signs posted there. Some say something like "CAUTION: Rocks immediately under surface" or "No Swimming: Shark Infested Waters" or some other warning to let you know about some known danger in that area.

Some things you don't try

When we read those signs, some of us dredge up images of news reports where someone crashed a boat on the rocks, was bitten on the leg by a shark, lost an arm, or worse, lost their life. There are very few who would take a boat out or go swimming in that particular stretch of water. Those who do have no one to blame for the consequences but themselves. The signs have a very real meaning to us.

"Giving out tickets ahead..."

For drivers in some states there are signs that say "Speed Trap Ahead", warning about State Troopers sitting in wait for drivers habitually driving over the posted speed limit.

To most of us, this means that ignoring the signs and continuing to exceed the speed limit would likely result in a ticket.

Some things are not that big a risk

When we see signs that warn of something we know is dangerous, only those who are willing to take the chance will continue into the situation described by the warning. Then again, it seems that most people occasionally drive over the speed limit because, well, "I don't want to hold up traffic and everyone else is doing it."

Normally, you won't see anyone getting a ticket for a couple of miles per hour over. Those speed limit signs are just for those who go 10, 20, or 30 mph over the limit, right? At least with what we have seen, the police only stop those who go way over the speed limit. Of course, the speed trap could be shut down for the day, but does anyone want to take the chance?

Some people are exempt for various reasons

Of course, some people have "get out of jail free" cards because they know the judge, or have diplomatic immunity, or are just too mean for the local authorities to tackle (Mafia, gangs, etc.) without good reason. The authorities often let the little things go - like speeding or illegal parking. But that doesn't work when you are dealing with rocks under water or shark attacks, so people have to decide which consequences they are willing to risk.

There are other warnings...

What are we talking about here? Warnings about doing things with known bad consequences. What about warnings that are so common in the Bible, the ones that people have heard so many times that they no longer even think about them and just do the very things the warnings say not to do? No one seems to be punished for ignoring the warnings in the Bible, so why should we not continue on our way and just ignore them? After all, "Everyone else is doing it."

"I've never seen anyone go to Hell, so it doesn't seem real..."

Oh, the warnings in the Bible are real, and the consequences are very severe, but no one seems to be paying any consequences for ignoring them. Even the Bible says that, in this life, bad people seem to be getting away with it (Psalm 73:3
For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

, Jer 12:1
You are always righteous, LORD, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease?

). Many of the people who ignore them have heard the warnings so many times, they know exactly what these warnings say. So, why would people do things that the warnings say have bad consequences? I have a theory about that. My theory is:

Since no one has ever seen the consequences of actions described by the warnings in the Bible, many people do not really believe the warnings or consider the consequences to be real. At best, these "non-believers" will think, "I can change right before I die and make it in" or, "I believe that I am going to Heaven, so I will." At worst, they think that "their Jesus" will save them no matter what they do. They feel they have a "get out of jail free card", so they can break any of God's rules and not have any consequences.

For them, these consequences are not like shark attacks or car accidents where you can see the results. Worse, if they begin to feel that the consequences seem to be only theoretical, then all they feel they have to do is change the theory so that the consequences do not apply to them. To them, God is just a big "Granddaddy" in the sky that will only punish other people that do the same bad things they do. They forget that God is the Author of the original Theory, and it still applies - to everyone.

Now, this theory is not for those who do not believe in God or Jesus. They will be judged based on their actions and we have no way of knowing what will happen to them. However, for those who claim to be Christians, these warnings and consequences definitely apply. The trouble is, people are so used to getting away with believing things that are not true that they violate the warnings and signs and don't even know it. The biggest untruth is "Those signs don't apply to us." When someone comes along and tries to point out in the Bible what is happening, guess what happens to them? Yep, shut down as quacks or legalists.

People knew about this tendency long ago

Have you ever heard of the Cassandra metaphor? I hadn't, so I looked it up. Wikipedia defines it this way:

The Cassandra metaphor (variously labelled the Cassandra 'syndrome', 'complex', 'phenomenon', 'predicament', 'dilemma', or 'curse') occurs when valid warnings or concerns are dismissed or disbelieved.

The term originates in Greek mythology. Cassandra was a daughter of Priam, the King of Troy. Struck by her beauty, Apollo provided her with the gift of prophecy, but when Cassandra refused Apollo's romantic advances, he placed a curse ensuring that nobody would believe her warnings. Cassandra was left with the knowledge of future events, but could neither alter these events nor convince others of the validity of her predictions.

The metaphor has been applied in a variety of contexts such as psychology, environmentalism, politics, science, cinema, the corporate world, and in philosophy,

The gist of this is "The Cassandra metaphor occurs when valid warnings or concerns are dismissed or disbelieved." Notice the last partial paragraph. Notice anything missing in the list of subjects to which this philosophy has been applied? Religion. I hate the term, but most people will know what I mean by using it. Of course, you can include religion and faith in philosophy, but that leaves the concept so broad that is is hard to see the connection.

There is one difference about the warnings you see in "religion", specifically the Bible. Think about this:

No one alive has ever seen the consequences of actions described by the warnings in the Bible.

How about you? Did your dead grandfather come back and tell you what it was like in Heaven or Hell? If he did, then either the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke:16:19-31

19 "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

22 "The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'

25 "But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.'

27 "He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'

29 "Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.'

30 "'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'

31 "He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' "

) means nothing, or it wasn't your grandfather you were hearing. Luke 16:31
31 "He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' "

tells us who we should be listening to, and they wrote the Bible.

The rich man ignored the warnings and signs, and suffered the consequences. Too late he realized what had happened and wanted his brothers warned "so that they will not also come to this place of torment". He and his brothers were doing what "everyone else is doing" and he found out that it was wrong. What was it that they were ignoring? Moses and the Prophets - not Jesus and some new softer, gentler truth - Moses. And, by the way, these words from Luke are in red. We are getting the exact same warnings today, from Jesus' own words, but few seem to be paying attention.

"Here's my proof...I went to Heaven!"

Of course, some people have claimed to have seen it. Books like Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo and To Heaven and Back by Mary C. Neal, MD, claim that some have died and have done something that the Bible never even suggests can even happen. It's not that the Bible says it will not happen, it just doesn't say that it will. That leaves an opening for someone to make claims because they consider it a matter of opinion. In fact, the events we are told in the Bible say things will happen in a very different way than claimed by these authors (John 3:13
No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven - the Son of Man.

). Paul told us in 1 Thes 4:13-17
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord's word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (emphasis mine)

that no one will go anywhere until the coming of the Lord, and He will come again only once (for the foundation of this statement, see Why "Second Coming"? on this site). This is not a personal philosophy, but a claim from the truth of the Bible.

In a way, this actually demonstrates my point. People not only ignore the warnings, they make up stuff that contradicts the warnings with no Biblical references or proof. Since no one can prove any different, who's to say otherwise? Well, remember the discussion above about deciding which risks to take? If you believe what God says, but ignore the warnings He gives about actions in this life, you will be stuck with the consequences in the next. And if you think "your" Jesus will save you, remember Whose orders the Real One is following (John 5:30
30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

).

"Oops. Went the wrong way."

There are even a few that claim to have gone the other way. Bill Wiese wrote a book called 23 Minutes in Hell. Boy, that brings to mind a lot of questions that could also be asked of the authors who claim to have gone to Heaven. How did he wind up there unless judgment was complete? Is he going back to the same place when he dies for the last time? Can he change his destiny? If he can, does that mean that the first judgment was in error? Who made the error?

Don't just sit there looking at me like that...

Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking. If you want to see the support for this, take a look at the page called Heaven on this site for the discussion and foundation for these statements. I'm not just trying to scare you - just point to the warnings. The warnings from God are supposed to do the scaring, but only if you don't take them to heart. But then, if you don't take them to heart, then they are not scary. If you still disagree, let me know and I will print your side on this site.

Clear instructions ignored

The Bible says Heaven will come to earth (Rev 21:1-2
1 Then I saw "a new heaven and a new earth," for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

), but nearly "every" Christian claims that believers will go up to Heaven and stay there forever. The Bible warns that certain actions will go against the will of God and cause eternal condemnation (1 Cor 6:9-10
9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

), but "most" Christians claim that they are exempt from these warnings because they believe in Christ. Of course, the Christ they believe in is different from the One described in the Bible (John 5:22
22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son,

, John 5:30
30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

, John 12:47-48
47 "If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day."

, Romans 2:12-16
12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

, Matthew 25:31-46
31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all his angels are with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 The people of every nation will be gathered in front of him. He will separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right but the goats on his left.

34 "Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, my Father has blessed you! Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you took me into your home. 36 I needed clothes, and you gave me something to wear. I was sick, and you took care of me. I was in prison, and you visited me.'

37 "Then the people who have God's approval will reply to him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or see you thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you as a stranger and take you into our homes or see you in need of clothes and give you something to wear? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?'

40 "The king will answer them, 'I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you did for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did for me.'

41 "Then the king will say to those on his left, 'Get away from me! God has cursed you! Go into everlasting fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels! 42 I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn't take me into your homes. I needed clothes, and you didn't give me anything to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn't take care of me.'

44 "They, too, will ask, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or as a stranger or in need of clothes or sick or in prison and didn't help you?'

45 "He will answer them, 'I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you failed to do for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do for me.'

46 "These people will go away into eternal punishment, but those with God's approval will go into eternal life."

). The real Jesus will judge based on the word and will of God, the Father (John 5:30
30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

). Their "Jesus" is "tailored" to fit their own needs - less condemning of real sin and never demanding obedience to the will of God.

No consequences?

If you spend time in the Bible, you are exposed to countless warnings about living outside the will of God, as well as countless instructions as to how to live within His will. You know, those old boring ones - "Do this.", "Don't do that.", and "thou shalt not...". How do "Christians" respond? The biggest response is that those warnings and instructions "are only for the Israelites, so we don't have to follow them". They think they are like those "exempt" people in the paragraph above with the "get out of jail free" cards. To me, this means that they feel that they have no rules to follow except those they define themselves apart from those for "only the Israelites". Everything else is a free ride to Heaven for Gentile Christians that is somehow not available to the original "people of God" - the Israelites (Exodus 6:7
7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.

).

Comparing this to the traffic speed violations discussion above, when nothing happens after a small violation (two or three miles per hour over), people go a little farther in their disobedience (those signs are not for us). When nothing happens, they go farther, believing that since they have no promptings (signs) from the holy Spirit, it must be OK (10, 20, 30 mph over the limit). Still, we see no consequences. When will we see the consequences? Like the rich man in the parable, only after it is too late. But, those signs are not for us, right?

Disagree? Find an error? Contact us at glenjjr@gmail.com and give us your view.

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