Freedom!

handcuffed-tagged

Convicted!

“Warning: Hitchhikers may be escaping inmates.” So said the orange sign we passed on an Oklahoma highway.

Hearing about someone who lived next door to the Huntsville prison, a teenager commented, “I wouldn’t want to live next to a prison.” His dad replied, “Better next to than in.”

Some years ago several of us visited the Gurney Unit near Tennessee Colony, Texas. Overlooking the locked gate, the guard kept watch. At the base of the tall enclosure were long coils of razor wire, making escape next to impossible.

Even if an inmate could somehow slip past the guards and over the top, he must always be looking over his shoulder. Out of prison, he can never truly relax as a free man. Really, he isn’t. Legally, he is still a prisoner.

Acquitted!

While we may or may not have done anything that would land us in jail, we have all done things that condemn us to hell (Romans 3:23; 6:23; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21; Revelation 21:8). It’s true, so we might as well admit it.

The worst prison on earth can’t compare with the horrors of an eternal hell. Let’s do everything required of us to escape the sentence that will surely be ours if we don’t get right with God. He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Though innocent, Jesus was willing to die as a convicted criminal in the most horrible fashion. Because He died in our place, God offers each of us a pardon we surely do not deserve.

It is a pardon that allows us to walk out of our cell on death row, through the gates of sin’s prison, and out into the fresh air and blue skies of freedom! God wipes our record clean.

Nothing we’ve done will ever be held against us. He offers us a fresh start, a new beginning. “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

Released!

Have you taken the steps to obtain the freedom He so much wants to give you? (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:37-38; 22:16).

Why stay locked up when freedom is so available?

Using a similar analogy of the slavery of sin vs. the glorious freedom He offers, Jesus promised, “. . . everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin . . . . So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:34, 36).

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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The Six Stages

The following are all the possible stages a person can experience from conception to eternity:

1. The womb

Reincarnation is not biblical. We come into existence at conception and not before (John 8:58; also compare the relative ages of John the Baptist and Jesus—Luke 1:36; John 1:15, 30).

Abortion is morally wrong because it fails to respect the sacredness of life in the womb (Genesis 25:21-23; Psalm 139:13-16; Jeremiah 1:5; Luke 1:41-44).

2. Innocence

Infants and small children have no sin (Deuteronomy 1:39; Matthew 19:14). If they were to die at this stage of life, they would go to be with God.

3. Alienation

When we first sin we are separated from God and are destined for hell, unless we turn to God in faith, repentance, and obedience (Ephesians 2:1-13).

4. Reconciliation

New life in Christ begins at baptism (Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12-13). We are restored to fellowship with God and now have hope!

5. Hades

At death the spirit separates from the body. The Hadean world is where the spirits of the dead await the Judgment (Luke 16:19-31; 23:43; Philippians 1:21-24).

Hades is not the same as hell (Matthew 10:28; 25:41; Revelation 21:8). At Jesus’ death His spirit went to the portion of Hades called Paradise (Acts 2:27, 31; Luke 23:43).

6. Heaven

When Christ returns, the righteous dead will be raised and be given glorious new bodies (1 Corinthians 15:42-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). And then to live forever with God! What a glorious destiny awaits the faithful child of God!

We’ve all seen a diagram of a building or some other place that has printed on it, “You are here.” On our spiritual journey, where are we? Anyone reading this article is either in Stage 3 or Stage 4. If we stay in Stage 3, then our Stage 6 will not be heaven.

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Rotten!

Dealing with a potential risk

A crotch in an oak tree near our house is rotting. Other dead wood is evident here and there.

This may be due to a severe ice storm that broke limbs all over town. Then too, some ants made their home in this same tree some time ago.

Is the tree endangering the house? Should it be trimmed way back or removed entirely?

danger-sign-tagged

A far greater danger!

Is there something in our lives that could jeopardize our eternal welfare—perhaps a sinful habit, a questionable friendship, a rotten attitude?

Is anything worth going to hell for? Jesus said, in essence, “Whatever hinders you, get rid of it now before it destroys you” (Matthew 5:27-30; see 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; Hebrews 12:1-2).

How we respond reveals whether or not we really believe Him.

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