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Jesus is the way,
 the truth, and the life

 

 

 

 

 

TOLERANCE AND THE SOCIETY

 

 

 

 

Nowadays in our society it is common a thought about development. It is thought how we are year by year more sensible, clever, braver and more developed than the previous generations. Many think also that they are objective, wise and tolerant, and that the opinions of others do not influence their opinions and views. Anyone does not want at least to admit that he would be narrow-minded and limited and that he would not think for oneself.

   But, but; there is also other side in the matter, which is, that we are children of our own time much more than we think. It means that the surrounding society influences our thoughts and opinions much more than we believe. In every time there are certain thoughts, views and attitudes that work on our own intellectual world. If we deny the influence of them, we are certainly not honest with ourselves.

   The next description is from an old society from behind 2000 years. It is a good example of that how people believed and thought then. It is a question of the worship of the goddess Diana. However, the worship of the same goddess is not known at all nowadays. It indicates how the thoughts and attitudes of the society can change:

 

- (Acts 19:23-29) And the same time there arose no small stir about that way.

24  For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain to the craftsmen;

25  Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, you know that by this craft we have our wealth.

26  Moreover you see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands:

27  So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nothing; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worships.

28  And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.

29  And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.

 

A change in the society

 

As it was mentioned in the previous paragraph how the thoughts and attitudes of the society can change, it is true also in our society. Examples of that are free sex relationships (so said sexual revolution), abortion and homosexuality that have become generally accepted during the last decades and years. It is remarkable that each of them were commonly regarded as wrong as late as 50 years ago and like that has been done in former generations through centuries, but now there has happened a change in attitudes.

   There has come out many that have drummed for these matters – such as the Ephesians cried out in a choir in their time: “Great is Diana of the Ephesians” - and it has at last influenced our attitudes. They have been become accepted matters, because they have appeared repeatedly in media.

    The next citation describes well the progress of the process. There is a question of sexual revolution (Indeed, it is questionable to speak about the revolution, because there has been sex through the ages and the amount of it has surely not increased. It is only a question of sex between them who are not married yet.) which in its time spread to the society. Then there were a few that drummed for the matter and they were greeted in media as heroes. It, on the other hand, influenced in attitudes in the society and in people’s behaviour: 

 

I was away from my homeland for three years, the years 1965–1968. When I returned in the autumn of 1968, I was very surprised at the change that had taken place in the atmosphere of public conversation. This concerned both the tone of conversation and also the framing of questions.

(...) In the world of high school, those who demanded justification of sexual relationships were the ones blowing their trombones loudly. They insisted, for instance, that boys and girls should be allowed to live together in university dormitories even though they were not married.

   It seemed as though the Teenager Union had been conquered by new leaders, who announced not only socialism and school democracy but also an idea of free sexual relationships.

   All in all, what was new with the situation was that there were reference groups speaking about sexual questions much more openly than it had been normal in public. These groups accused the society and the church of double standards.

   The tone of the conversation was to a large extent ethical. Morals were regarded as bad, and blamed. However, a new moral was simultaneously announced, often very moralistically and intolerantly. It had been discussed earlier that the sexual behavior of young people must be understood, but now some groups announced that it is right to have free sexual relationships. The institution of marriage and real genuine love were even set side by side. Illegal couples were interviewed in public, as though they were some kind of heroes of a new moral standard, who had dared to rise against the morals of the bourgeois society. Homosexuals were interviewed in the same way and people demanded abortion to be legalized.

(...) Even though, according to my observations, the atmosphere of public conversation in Finland had changed surprisingly much between the years 1965 and 1968, the topical questions discussed everywhere else in the world were the same as in Finland. The difference was only in the vehemence of conversation and perhaps in the fact that in a small country like Finland, small active groups can almost overpower the media. In addition, we are probably still unaccustomed to public conversation. So the simple attitude of being right becomes dominant in a small country like Finland much easier than in larger countries. (1)

 

THE PROPHESIED DEVELOPMENT

 

If we still stay in the development happening in the society and take a spiritual viewpoint to it, it can be stated that about it has been prophesied beforehand. It is not so a question of any chance, but about it has been spoken years, even hundreds of years beforehand.

   Firstly, we can of course mention the prophecies of the Bible from behind almost 2000 years. In them it is spoken about that how just before the coming of Jesus it is like in the days of Noah and Lot, and that apostasy will come before it. These all are things that indicate how the change in the society will take place, and much of it has already happened in our society:

 

- (Luke 17:26-30) And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.

27  They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.

28  Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built;

29  But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.

30  Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.

 

- (2 Tim 3:1-4) This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

2  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

3  Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

4  Traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

 

- (2 Tess 2:3) Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition

 

- (1 Tim 4:1) Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils

 

Secondly, we can take out the prophecy of William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army who lived in the 1800s. There he mentions about the development of the society and especially of the so-called Christianity in western countries and what is it like "A day before the coming of Jesus". In the first passage it is mentioned: "At that time politics is without God. (...) There will be a day when the official state politics of the entire West is of the kind that nobody in a leading position fears God (...) the new generation of political leaders will rule Europe; a generation that does not fear God in the least.”

   Instead, the passages two and three describe well the change happening in Christendom. There it is spoken how a "gospel" for the itching ears of the people will be preached and is not spoken about hell and our responsibility, and how Christianity is full of forgiveness but without repentance. We can certainly say that the prophecy of Booth has come true already now. At least it is usual that it is not spoken about many things as sins that we should give up, but it is tried to bless them (blessing of the relationships outside the marriage and gay relationships in churches is one example) and to consider them good in God’s eyes. The development has been just such during the last years:

 

   2. Then there will be heaven without hell (...) There will be a day when a great withdrawal of what the Bible says to be "the Gospel of the full truth" will take place. At that time a "gospel" for the itching ears of the people will be preached. The hearers will determine what is preached from the pulpits. Then, the common order for the pulpits will be 'speak mild, sweet words; speak about heaven, leave us in peace so that we would not have to be strained when you preach about hell.'

   3. Christendom is full of forgiveness but without repentance. The teaching of the Bible that there is no forgiveness without repentance.

 

Thirdly, it is good to mention the well-known book The Vision by David Wilkerson. The vision being there is from the year 1973, and it hits aptly to the modern society. In the first chapter of the book it is spoken about the economical confusion that will appear to the world (just now there are marks of it), in the second chapter it is spoken about curios whether phenomena (compare the speeches about climate changes) and in the third chapter about our proper object or a collapse in morality that will appear to the society.

   Here we will not handle more deeply these prophecies in question, because everyone can read them from the book. However, it is good to note that the prophecies about the change in the society, mentioned in it, have come true greatly. One topical example of that is again the homosexual behaviour, which before was generally regarded as wrong, but now as right, and it influences also to church. In the book it is indicated beforehand the change that will take place in the society and in the church:

 

"There are two forces that prevent gays from dedicating themselves completely to their sin: society does not accept them and the church's teachings are against them. But these barriers will disappear when society no longer resists their sin and deems it abnormal, but on the contrary encourages them to continue, and when the church no longer preaches about their sin but supports them in their sexual activities. The floodgates will open, and the gays will be encouraged to continue in their sin. I have seen in my vision that these two obstacles will be wiped away and when they are taken away, chaos will follow." (2)

 

THE SOCIETY CAN CHANGE

 

As in the previous paragraphs it has been spoken how the society can change, it is possible to happen to a whatever direction. About negative development and how evilness and illegality gain power, so there are several examples of it in the history. One of them is the Third Reich of Hitler from the last century. Furthermore there are several examples how the change to negative has happened in the past societies. Israel of the past time, about which has been told in the Bible, is also one example.

   But change and progress in a society can happen also to a good direction from moral point of view. There is not a question of any big brother-control society, about which there are also examples in the history, but of that the wide crowds have changed internally. Those who support evilness and defend it naturally think differently, but the next description indicates well of what is it a question . It is from the 19th century:

 

I have told that the moral situation changed greatly through this revival. The city was new, economically prosperous and enterprising but full of sin. The population was especially intelligent and ambitious but as the revival swept through the city by bringing large crowds of its most remarkable people, men and women, to conversion, there happened a very miraculous change concerning the order, peacefulness and morality.

   I had a talk with a lawyer many years later. He had been converted in this revival and was a general prosecutor in criminal cases. Because of this office the criminal statistics were thoroughly familiar to him. He said about the time of this revival, “I have examined documents of criminal law and noticed a surprising fact: while our city has grown three times larger after the times of the revival, there has not been even a third of the indictments than there were before. So miraculous an effect did the revival have on our society.”(…)

   (...) Both public and personal opposition gradually abated. In Rochester I did not know anything about it. The salvation had is own great visitation, the revivals were so powerful and moved so widely, and people had time to become acquainted both with themselves and the results of them to such an extent that they feared to oppose them as before. The priests also understood them better, and the wicked were convinced that they were acts of God. This idea of them became almost common, so clear was the sane nature of the conversions, so really transformed, “new creations”, were the converts, so thorough a change occurred both in individuals and in the society, and so permanent and undeniable were the fruit. (Charles G. Finney: Ihmeellisiä herätyksiä, p. 245, 246, 249)

 

THE JUDGEMENT IS COMING

 

In the previous prophecy of William Booth there is a mention how the Christendom is full of forgiveness but without repentance and that is not preached about hell.

   Nowadays it has already come true there that it is blessed sin such as homosexuality in the name of love, but is not wanted to repent as it was said in the prophecy of Booth. It is not understood that God can free man from all kinds of bonds and lusts (alcoholism, narcotic addiction, sex addiction, homosexuality, stealing… Almost all of them are issues that are in some connection to traumatic human relations. The love of God can heal also the wounds of soul being connected with them), if man only turns honestly to God. It is neither taken seriously those passages of the Word in which it is spoken about irrepentance and its consequences such as 1 Cor 6:9,10, for example, indicates. Instead many act like the religious and hypocritical Pharisees of Jesus’ time, who nullified the word of God for the sake of their tradition. Now the same takes place rather for the sake of Gallup polls in our society.

 

- (1 Cor 6:9,10) Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?  Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

10  Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionists, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

 

- (Matt 15:6-9) ... Thus have you made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

7  You hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,

8  This people draws near to me with their mouth, and honors me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

9  But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

 

An important thing is however that the judgement is coming and it concerns us all. Many can of course deny this but can they prove their opinion to be right? Can they prove that it is no matter how each of us lives and that the next verses are not true? If they, in spite of all, are true and the truth, isn’t it worth while to take them seriously?

   The good thing is however that you don’t have to go to damnation, if you turn to Jesus Christ. For however bad your past is, you can be forgiven everything through Jesus Christ. It is a good promise of the Bible for everyone who turns to Him:

 

- (John 3:14,15) And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

15  That whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

 

- (Acts 13:38) Be it known to you therefore, men and brothers, that through this man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins

 

In any case, as the purpose was to speak about the judgement, there are grounds for taking out some matters and points that influence to it. At least the next factors are important:

 

According to the works. Firstly, the judgement will take place according to the works. It concerns that we have done right or wrong or have failed to do good, as there would have been a possibility to it (James 4:17: Therefore to him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin.).

   Furthermore, as the judgement will take place according to the works, it means that there are judgements of different degrees. Every man will be rewarded according to his works, so there is certainly different judgements to an hardened sinner and to a person who is not like that yet.

 

- (Col 3:25) But he that does wrong shall receive for the wrong which he has done: and there is no respect of persons.

 

- (Matt 16:27) For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

 

- (Rev 20:12-15) And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

13  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

14  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

15  And whoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

 

According to the words. One basis of estimation are the words. According to Jesus, who says: “You fool”, shall be in danger of hell fire and every idle word that we speak, we shall give account thereof in the day of judgement. In other words, it means that even the quick words that we say in talking places of Internet are significant and important. According to them we shall be justified or condemned.

 

- (Matt 5:22) But I say to you, That whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whoever shall say, You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

 

- (Matt 12:36,37) But I say to you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

37  For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.

 

- (Rev 22:15) For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and fornicators, and murderers, and idolaters, and whoever loves and makes a lie.

 

Has led others astray? One basis of estimation that must be taken into consideration, is a question of that, has the person led others astray? For the greatest sinners are not necessarily the criminals in prisons, but those who by their own example and by speeches lead others astray. In other words, it means that the representatives of TV-channels and media, who speak up and drive for wrong things, and who can have an influence to hundreds of thousands, can be such. But as well all such persons, who estrange people from God, can be such. According to the Bible the judgement of a person like this is greater, and it arises of course from that the misled people are also in their responsibility. At least we can understand like this from the next verses:

 

- (Luke 17:1,2) Then said he to the disciples, It is impossible but that offenses will come: but woe to him, through whom they come!

2  It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

 

- (James 3:1) My brothers, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

 

How have we treated others? Still it is good to mention one important factor or a question of that how have we treated others. It is an area that is one basis of estimation and in which we have to often admit our failure and the lack of love. We have not showed interest and pity towards our neighbours and disadvantaged.

   It is happy, however, that if we turn to Jesus Christ with all our heart, we have a possibility to be forgiven this neglect such as also other sins:

 

- (James 2:13) For he shall have judgment without mercy, that has showed no mercy; and mercy rejoices against judgment.

 

- (Matt 25:41-46) Then shall he say also to them on the left hand, Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

42  For I was an hungered, and you gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink:

43  I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and you visited me not.

44  Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we you an hungered, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to you?

45  Then shall he answer them, saying, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.

46  And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

 

ETERNITY

 

- (John 14:1-6) Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me.

2  In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

3  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

4  And where I go you know, and the way you know.

5  Thomas said to him, Lord, we know not where you go; and how can we know the way?

6  Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.

 

One mistake of modern men is that they do not think over what is behind the border. They do not think over what is after this life but their goals and targets are only in this life. Many of them can regard themselves as advanced, wise and far-sighted but it is not true at least in this because eternal issues have no place in them or they are not interested in them. In fact, most of us are just similar to the citizens of Paul, as he spoke to them. They contradicted the speeches of Paul, blasphemed and judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life:

 

- (Acts 13:45-47) But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spoke against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.

46  Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing you put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, see, we turn to the Gentiles.

47  For so has the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set you to be a light of the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.

 

- (Acts 22:17,18) And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance;

18  And saw him saying to me, Make haste, and get you quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive your testimony concerning me.

 

A good question is however, what is true and what is not. If eternal life is true, how stupid are we, if do not pay any attention to it. Then we are the most stupid people of the world, if we do not want to change, be renewed and aim to the eternal life. In fact, the whole core of the New Testament is just the eternal kingdom to which we are called by God and which we can get as a gift through the reconciliation of Jesus. If we reject it, we do certainly not act wisely.

   It is good to note that behind the border we cannot change the direction of our life and take back our selections, and therefore it is wise to turn to God right now, already today:

 

”Oh, damnable, nasty! Damned for ever! How foolishly have I done to myself! Of what stupid absurdity was I guilty as I chose the pleasure of sin for a short time at the price of high eternal torment. How often to me was said that it would happen like this. How often was I warned to give up the paths of sin that certainly would lead me to cells of eternal death! But I, like a deaf, did not listen to those warnings even though they warned so wisely. They said to me often that my short pleasure will soon change into eternal torment. And now my too sad experience says to me it, it really says, but it is too late to help because my eternal part has been determined for ever.

   Why was I given the chance? Why had I been equipped with an immortal soul? Why did I not care about it? Oh, how my own neglect pierces me so dreadfully and I still know that I cannot and will not die. But to live a deadly life is worse than ten thousand deaths, and I still could have been helped once but I did not want to! Oh, this is the gnawing worm that never dies. Once, I could have been happy; once I was offered salvation but I rejected it. If it had happened only once and I would have rejected it, even that would have been unforgivable foolishness, but it was offered to me a thousand times, and I resisted it as often (so lousy I was). Damn the sin which with its deceitful enjoyment enchants mankind to eternal destruction! God called me often but I resisted Him as often. He reached out his hands but I did not care. How often did I go against His commands, how often I resisted His reprimands! But now, the situation has changed, for now He follows my accident and mocks the ruin that has come for my part. He could have helped me then, but I did not want His help. Therefore, these eternal pains are just a reward for my own deeds and I am condemned to suffer." (4)

 

So, if you yourself want to receive eternal life and to get into connection with God, it is possible. The following points are important in this issue:

 

1. Turn to Jesus Christ and give your life to Him

 

The first phase in being saved is turning to Jesus Christ, because according to the Bible He is the mediator, the way to God and to heaven and only in Him there is eternal life. You can tell Him that you are a sinner who needs salvation and that you want the plan of God to come true in your life. At first, there is no need to try to become better, just go to Him as you are with all of your faults.

 

- (1 Tim 2:5) For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus

 

- (John 5:40) And you will not come to me, that you might have life.

 

- (John 14:6) Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.

 

2. Receiving

 

The second issue is simply receiving. As eternal life can be received as a gift through the Son of God, Jesus, you must receive Him into your life (in other words you can simply say, " Lord Jesus, come into my life!). According to the Bible, He already stands behind the door of our heart and waits for a chance to step into our lives: 

 

- (Rev 3:20) Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

 

If you have done this, you have then, according to the Scriptures, taken on God and eternal life. You have this in spite of how you feel at that moment. Do not base your assurance of salvation on your feelings that can change, but on the word of God and on Jesus Christ, just like the anchor of a ship is never thrown inside the ship but always outside.

 

- (John 1:12)  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name

 

 - (1 John 5:11-13) And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

12  He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life.

13  These things have I written to you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.

 

THE PRAYER OF SALVATION:

 

Lord, Jesus, I turn to You. I confess that I have sinned against You and have not lived according to Your will. However, I want to turn away from my sins and follow You with all my heart. I also believe that my sins have been forgiven through Your atonement and I have received eternal life through You. I thank You for the salvation that You have given me. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES:

 

1. MATTI JOENSUU: Avoliitto, avioliitto ja perhe, p. 12-14

2. DAVID WILKERSON: Näky, p. 48

3. Charles G. Finney: Ihmeellisiä herätyksiä, p. 245, 246, 249

4. JOHN BUNYAN: Näkyjä taivaasta ja helvetistä, p. 66-68

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jari Iivanainen




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