Is Heaven Big Enough?

Today is the second day of Spring — you wouldn’t know it if you only relied on the view from your windowsill in Northwest Montana!  But, snowfall aside, it is the third week of March!  I guess, Puxatony Phil was right, afterall!

Foys Lake, Kalispell, Montana

Spring Morning, Montana.

Springtime brings Easter, which, for Christians, means Resurrection Sunday.  For the rest of the world, it’s an opportunity to decorate eggs, maybe take some time off of school and/or work, and eat chocolate.  Perhaps, Church attendance is up a bit on Easter Sunday to accommodate all those twice-a-year Christians.

However, to the Believer, the meaning behind Easter is of the utmost importance.  For it was on Good Friday Jesus went to Golgotha, carrying the cross by himself (John 19:17), to be persecuted and therefore fulfill the promise of a New Covenant – a covenant that forgives us of our sins and allows eternal life along the side of our God, our Lord, and our Creator.  Three days later (Easter Sunday), Jesus arose from the dead, was witnessed by more than 500, and therefore proclaimed He is the risen Lord, the Lord of Lords, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Not to mention, He is totally awesome for defeating death!

Oh death, where is your sting!?

(1 Corinthians 15:55)

To the Jehovah’s Witness, it’s in the beginning of Spring that the observance of “Memorial” occurs.  Memorial takes place specifically on Nisan 14 (the old Jewish calendar), and according to the literature of The Watchtower, it was on this day Jesus instituted the observance of the night of Jewish Passover (also known as The Lord’s Supper).

I’ll be the first to admit, all the emphasis toward the accuracy of the history of an event (especially an event so important and critical to the Christian) is great!  However, the emphasis can be a weapon of deceit.  Allow me to illustrate:

The Kingdom Hall's Book.

Cover of The Watchtower's Study Aid.

In The Watchtower’s little yellow book, “What Does The Bible Really Teach,” on page 206 (in the Appendix) begins an article, “The Lord’s Evening Meal – An Observance That Honors God.”  Interestingly, they begin by declaring that CHRISTIANS are commanded to observe the Memorial of Christ’s death.  This statement would have one believe they are also “Christian.”

Interestingly, the term “Christian” only appears three times in the Bible (twice in Acts, and once in 1 Peter).  In fact, Christ, himself, never used the term — although, he did, in fact, seriously imply that we must follow Him.  And, let it be understood that the exact definition of the term, “Christian” is “a follower of Christ.”

So, without arguing the origin of the term and whether or not we should be in the business of labeling, it must be understood that Christ did instruct a following, emphasized a desire to follow, and that those who follow are considered to be His people.  The bottom line: Jesus Christ inspired the Christian walk.

I bring this up because it would then be important to get Christ right.  Utterly important.

If a Christian is a follower of Christ, and if you consider yourself a Christian, you must be able to identify Christ.

Jesus Christ is:

Not just a babe born in a manger.  He was around prior to the stable in Bethlehem.  He is the creator of all things.

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.

(Colossians 1:16)

This is why in Genesis we get the plural account of God:

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

(Genesis 1:26)

Not to mention the specifics of Hebrew word for “God” is Elohiym— which is plural!

Jesus is also the reconciler (means to return to a former harmony) for us.  He said Himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the light.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).

Time and time again Jesus Christ clarifies His divinity.  And throughout the Bible His preeminence is declared.  His majesty is defined.  His authority over all creation is clear.

Yet, in chapter 4 of The Watchtower’s book, they fail to declare Jesus Christ’s ultimate authority.  They add that He was created by God, and not God himself.  In the next chapter, they claim Christ was nailed to a stake, not a cross, and in their additional resource material they state that true Christians do not use the cross in worship.  I guess they neglect Paul’s boasting in the cross of Jesus (Galatians 6:14).

They reinterpret John 1:1, claiming that Jesus Christ is A god, and not God, himself.  This itself is evidence of their shortcoming logic.  For, if Jesus is a god, and not God himself, what kind of god is Jesus?

As we are told countless times, there are no other Gods:

Isaiah 44:6 … “besides me there is no God.”

Deuteronomy 4:35 …”Jehovah is the [true] God; there is no other besides him.”

Isaiah 43:11 “...besides me there is no savior.”  (Jehovah speaking)

John 17:3-5 “…the only true God…”

It appears there’s an error in theology.  But, this isn’t anything new.  After all, didn’t God call man’s wisdom foolishness, anyway?

“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.”

(1 Corinthians 3:19)

So, step one, get Jesus right.  Proclaim the majesty of King Jesus, and worship Him!  Yes, worship — another ‘No No’ to The Watchtower.

The error in their theology is evident in verses like:

Matthew 2:2, Matthew 8:2, Matthew 9:18, Matthew 14:33, Matthew 20:20, Matthew 28:17….and well over 40 others!

(By the way, all these verses indicate Jesus Christ being worshipped).

Step two, repent.  For prior to conversion you are an ENEMY to Jesus:

And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled.

(Colossians 1:21)

Step three, lift high your love for Christ, for He is risen!  Meaning, celebrate THIS Easter!  No, not with eggs and cards, but with the cup and the bread!

The Watchtower claims that only 144,000 individuals will inherit the kingdom of God, and only those who consider themselves to be “anointed” shall partake in the cup and the bread.

Ok.  Wait a minute.  So, Heaven is only big enough for God, His angels, Jesus…and 144,000 people?

On page 207 of their book, they recall a few key verses from the book of Hebrews.  I’ll post all of them to be used as reference:

Hebrews 9:14

“how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

Hebrews 10:16

“This [is] the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,”

Hebrews 10:17

[then He adds], “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

9:14 clarifies the purification of your sin by the bloodshed of Christ.  Interestingly, it says it’s possible through the Spirit.  This may be a little confusing to our non-Trinitarian believers.

10:16 is a bit interesting.  Many times with the Witnesses, you may find it helpful to read the previous and following verses.

(10:14) For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

(10:15) But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before,

(10:16) This [is] the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the   LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,”

(10:17) [then He adds], “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

In short, we have the Holy Spirit actually speaking verse 16.  (Again, a bit confusing to the non-Trinitarian believers).  We have the declaration that the one sacrifice that occurred on Calvary that day (referring to Jesus’ sacrifice) is all that we need.  And by that sacrifice, all the sins and lawless deeds of those who believe are erased forever.

Basically, when Jesus said “IT IS FINISHED.”  He meant it.  There’s no need for additional work.  In fact, nothing you can do will ever pay the price anyway.

I did suggest reading the previous and following scriptures, didn’t I?  Let’s return to the first verse The Watchtower suggests reading, Hebrews 9:14.

how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

…AND, verse 15:

And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Jesus is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death.  His death.  Then we get reference to “those who are called.”  The Watchtower regards “those called,” as the 144,000 for they are the only ones eligible to inherit the kingdom of heaven.  To support their theory, they suggest the following verses:

Genesis 22:18 [God speaking to Abraham] .. “in your seed all the nations shall be blessed”  (Jesus is in the lineage of Abraham)

Jeremiah 31:31-33 … God will establish a new covenant.  (yes, His name is Jesus Christ)

1 Peter 2:9 .. those who believe are a “chosen generation.”

Revelation 5:9-10 .. those who are able to witness Jesus obtaining the Scroll begin to sing and proclaim His authority.

and, finally, Revelation 14:1-3.  It’s worth providing these entire verses.

(1)Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred [and] forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.

(2)And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps.

(3)They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred [and] forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth.

Now, remember, The Watchtower’s theology would have us believe that only those who are called will be standing with The Lamb (Jesus) on Mount Zion (as indicated in verse 1).

Let’s go back to Hebrews 9:15.

In verse 15 we are told that only those who are called are able to inherit the kingdom of Heaven.  But, what does it mean to be “called?”

Turn to 1 Corinthians 1:1.

I’d like to suggest reading the first 9 verses, but for the sake of monitor space, I’ll print the first three:

(1)Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,

(2)To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

(3)Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

So, clearly Paul was called.  And so was Sosthenes.  (By the way, how do you pronounce that guy’s name?)  The church at Corinth also has those called, and apparently being called isn’t limited for it says “all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.”

So, who is eligible for God’s calling?

All people.  In every place.  All those would call on the name of Jesus Christ.

Romans 10:13 says it perfectly:

Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.

Everyone is eligible!  Not just a self-elected few!
By the way,  Paul’s letter to the Corinthians was written around 56 AD.  The population of Corinth was over 100,000 over 400 years prior to this letter.

How many people were called then?…And, this was over 2,000 years ago.  How many people have been called since?

Mathematically speaking, it’s a bit far reaching to think that there are any of the 144,000 living today!  It would seem as if God’s Heaven is already full!

But, let’s set mathematics and assumptions aside and consider those that God calls the 144,000.

In the 7th chapter of the book of Revelation we pick up in a time where four angels are sent to the four corners of the world.  They are sent to hold back the wind.  Another angel appears to command that the earth shall not be harmed until those who are servants of God are sealed.  As it turns out, these individuals happen to descend from the twelve tribes of Judah and the sum is 144,000.

By the way, this is all happening as the time called the Great Tribulation is ending.  How do I know?  Read further.  Verse 14 illustrates a revealing of all those who perished for God during the Great Tribulation.

So, we aren’t in Heaven.  We are still on earth.  The raging it at a standstill and God is calling the remainder of His people.  Read further.

Chapter 14 has the 144,000 on Mount Zion with the Lamb (Jesus).  Verse 4 illustrates, rather specifically, those who are a part of the 144,000.

These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from [among] men, [being] firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.

The 144,000 are people who:

  1. are virgins!
  2. follow the Lamb everywhere
  3. are firstfruits (in Biblical context, this means superior in excellence) among men, and
  4. they are without fault (perfect).

So, next time you are at Memorial and the cup and bread (signifying the bloodshed and body of Christ) are passed, those who partake in the offering better be:

  1. virgin
  2. following Christ everywhere
  3. better than everyone else
  4. and, perfect.

Boy, that’s quite a litmus test!

Now, a sceptic may challenge this stating, this would eliminate everyone!

No, it doesn’t.  God’s Word tells us there will be 144,000 during the time of the Great Tribulation that will live accordingly.  It won’t be me.  I’ll be in Heaven already.  For, I’ve already received God’s gift of Salvation made possible by His son, Jesus.

Now, as I view that list, I do remind myself to live as Christ-like as possible.  While, it’s impossible for me to be a virgin (I do have children), I can live a life in accordance to God’s will (as a husband, as a father, as a neighbor, and as an employee).  I can also choose to place Jesus in front of everything I do, therefore, be constantly following Him.  I am not perfect, nor do I consider myself to be better than anyone, BUT, God’s Word does assure me that on the day of my entrance into His presence, I will be viewed as flawless, and He will receive me with exceeding joy!  (Jude 24) How?  Because, Christ dwells within me.

Heaven is far bigger than 144,000.  In fact, there’s plenty of room!

Remember 2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

He’s patient.  He wants you to join Him.  May I suggest remembering Him this Easter season….or better yet, “Resurrection Sunday.”  Hang up the legalities, for God continually tells us it’s not by our works that we’re saved, but by grace alone.

And, if you are in some service or worship setting that would have you believe there’s not enough room in Heaven for you.  Leave.

Leave immediately, and follow Jesus.

Jesus has a room waiting for you in His Father’s house.  He’s going to prepare it for you. (John 14:2).

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KONY 2012

Three days ago I was completely unaware of who Joseph Kony is.  Completely in the dark.

This video changed all that for me.

The magnitude and viral popularity of this video reminded me of one released just a month ago; Jefferson Bethke’s rapid-fire popularity with his “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.

At first viewing, I felt inspired to act right away.  In fact, the campaign puts a lot of emphasis on doing something NOW.  So, I did.  I bought the “kit,” which I’m assuming includes a shirt, poster, and other guerrilla-marketing material.  Then, just two days ago, a friend of mine posted another blogger’s response to the entire campaign which, when read, caused my stomach to knot up.

What did I just give my money too?!

I was immediately brought back to being in high school and going to a concert with my friend Ben just because it was rock ‘n roll and it was $10.  Later, when I mentioned to another friend’s mom that we went to this show (insert name of rock show), she immediately perked up and shouted, “do you know what you just gave your money too!?”

It was an organization that supported young women financially with abortions.

Yeah, yikes!  I decided from that point on I’d begin to read the fine print.

Yet, when the 29 minute video concluded, I wanted to act immediately.  I was convinced Jospeh Kony must be known!  And stopped!

Then to get rather impressive information questioning the video’s credibility, I began to sink.  I began to ask if I was going to wear my cool red “Kony 2012” shirt.  So, I took a look at all the financials these opposing bloggers were indicating.

Stop At Nothing

First of all, the organization behind the Kony 2012 campaign is called Invisible Children, and obviously they claim their mission is to assist the Ugandan government in the arrest of Joseph Kony (a very, very bad guy).

Wait, let’s not G-rate this, or even be cute.  For over 25 years, Jospeh Kony has led the Lord’s Resistance Army in various parts of Africa and is responsible for 10s of 1,000s of child abductions, murders, rapes, and abuses.  He tops the lists for “world’s evil-doer” (Sorry, Dr. Evil).

It’s worth repeating.  He’s responsible for 10s…..of 1,000s…..of:

child murders,

rapes,

and abuses.

So, really, ANY awareness of this heinous crime is GOOD awareness, because to quote my favorite protagonist, “this aggression won’t stand, man!”  (“The Big Lebowski,” 1998).

The blogger of “The Daily What,” (the first criticism of the Kony Campaign I became aware of) claims that Charity Navigator, a non-profit company watch dog, only gives Invisible Children a 2/4 star rating (which, apparently is bad.  Bad enough to illicit blog-slamming).  However, after I visited the site, www.CharityNavigator.com, I found IC to have a 3/4 star rating.  The knots in my stomach began to loosen.

Now, don’t give up on me yet, I’m not taking the IC’s side.  Not yet, at least.  Because, it is quite obvious that their financial report certainly deserves to be questioned, if that’s what you’re compelled to do….drag non-profits out on to the floor that is.  But, why stop at IC?  Perhaps we should consider all the advocates of “pink-washing?”  You know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!  It’s become engrained in our American media-controlled minds that we need to wear pink through the month of October, that you’re likely to lose a few Facebook friends if you don’t!  I mean, gosh, what are you insensitive or something?  Don’t you want breast cancer to go away?

Yes, I do.  But, organizations like Komen for a Cure don’t!  That’s right, they don’t.  Because if breast cancer was cured, then the CEO would lose her $500,000 annual paycheck!  That means if we say good-bye to breast cancer, she says good-bye to her paycheck, and her bonuses!

If Komen for a Cure was so committed to finding a cure the “education” they push would include abstaining from sugar (cancer’s favorite food), and include the dangers and cancer-causing (yes, causing) aspects of mammogram procedures!  In fact, science has found that just absorbing Vitamin D3 dramatically reduces your risk of cancer–far greater than ANY pharmaceutical alternative, and yet you only find Komen endorsing products containing artificial sweeteners, MSG, and toxic chemicals!

But, wait – we’re talking about the Phony…err..Kony Campaign, not breast cancer you insensitive nit-wit.  Yes, you’re right.  And, perhaps it’s rather naive to expect any organization that operates like a company to be 100% transparent and 100% innocent.  Perhaps.

Here’s the bottom line: The IC has shed light on Joseph Kony – a man who just a couple weeks ago was NOT known by the world.

Now he is.  Maybe it’s one of those “the ends justifies the means,” things?  Because, let’s face it, while we all may not like the idea of people getting rich during a charity drive, what we do like is the intended goal of the charity drive.

So, will I wear my shirt?  Yes.  Because, I want people to know about Joseph Kony.  I want people to do research and write letters.  I want the US involved so these children don’t have to live and sleep in fear.  I will default to supporting a mission who’s “gas-in-the-tank” is composed of the support of it’s fanbase and not the complexities of a self-serving government.

As the video points out, today’s socially connected community (i.e. Facebook) is a larger community than the United States!  Imagine the potential!  The ability to send an important message is unparalleled with any other moment in time.  In a time where we tend to rely on our government to solve our problems (gas prices, energy concerns, health care, etc.), we are presented a message that is built by and supported by the people.  Not the government.  At the very least, that’s something worth supporting.

Update:  In case you’re interested in the opinion of the young Ugandan man (Jacob Acaye) featured in the video, read this.